News & Events

Rotary honours Gillian

July 28, 2016

Congratulations to Currie Park resident, Gillian Allen,  who was recently honoured with the prestigious Rotary award, the Paul Harris Fellow, at a special Rotary Dinner in Euroa, in recognition of her services in the community and to Rotary.

Gillian Allen’s career as a kindergarten teacher took her all over Victoria and Papua New Guinea developing, introducing and inspecting programs for children. She retired at 70 and thought that chapter of her life had closed. But now living at Currie Park in Euroa her skills have found a new purpose – one she never intended. Every week Gillian volunteers at Euroa’s aged care service, working with dementia patients.

 

“It’s been a big learning curve for me but I love it,” Gillian said. So many of the people just look into space, but using some of the same skills I used with children, we do a lot together and with encouragement you can get the patients to be part of activities,” Gillian said.

 

“I know a lot of people find it confronting being around people with dementia. But I love seeing them engage with something and listening to them talk about something, even if it is a fantasy. That’s very similar to working with children, you sometimes have to kid them into engaging.”

 

Gillian, 77, moved into Currie Park almost six years ago, after spending most of the previous two decades in Wodonga. After Wodonga she moved to Violet Town to live for a while with her daughter Rowena Allen, who is Victoria’s first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner. While in Violet Town she set up a multi-cultural playgroup in Shepparton and ran it for three years as a volunteer.

 

Once a cottage became available at Euroa’s Currie Park she accepted it –  a move that has paid off for Gillian, as well as for the wider community.

 

She knew no-one one in Euroa, but a career that involved public speaking, working with staff and also as a senior public servant with the Victorian Department of Human Services, prepared her for ‘new beginnings’.

 

Gillian started her new life by joining the local Rotary Club, where she served as Secretary, Euroa Probus where she is currently President, the Uniting Church, and croquet.  The strong community links that many Currie Park residents have with the wider Euroa community, mean activities on the estate can be hard to ‘schedule in’. But Gillian helps organise as many social opportunities as possible for people. There’s mahjong once a week, monthly movie afternoons, occasional art and craft sessions and a walking group and Gillian participates in all the activities if possible.

 

Euroa is a country town, but that doesn’t stop Gillian accessing the services she needs, especially medical facilities. Twice a week she goes to nearby Benalla to swim.

 

“My week is full there’s no doubt about it. It’s certainly not a place where you are left to do nothing.”

 

I love the ‘magimix’ of people who make up the community and that it is a safe and happy place to live. - Jo Portlock

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