Claire’s never too old to learn

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Claire’s never too old to learn

January 22, 2016

For almost a century Claire Toyne has loved learning. So mastering an iPad at 99 should come as no surprise to those who know her. Claire is learning to use the slim line device mainly to communicate with a grandson, Jamie, in the US, but can see it may also become the vehicle that allows her to continue reading. Claire, a resident at Rushall Park is a passionate reader and a keen user of the City of Yarra’s home library service. Each month one of the librarians visits her serviced apartment with several books, often about music and art – another two great loves. Recently, the home library service has also provided the iPad lessons.

“I am a voracious reader, but holding a book, particularly a heavy book is becoming very uncomfortable, though I am reluctant to give up turning the pages just yet,” Claire said.

She has time now to spend much of the day reading, as she can no longer paint, though her art hangs on the apartment walls alongside stunning glass art done by her son, Peter.

She ‘dabbled’ in painting most of her life, when there was time. She trained as a nurse and then midwife and she and husband, Howard, raised three sons, Phillip, Peter and Michael. She’s immensely proud of her sons. Peter, a former Attorney-General with the Northern Territory Government is now a glass artist and designer living in Victoria. Michael died after an accident when he was a young man and Phillip, a lawyer, Indigenous advocate, co-founder of the national Landcare program and one-time head of the Australian Conservation Foundation, died earlier this year.

“I loved what my sons did, but more than that – I loved how they did it,” she said.

Claire moved into one of the lovely Rushall Park cottages 15 years ago and then into a serviced apartment two years ago. Her husband, Howard, a doctor and pioneer of sports medicine in Australia died many years ago and Claire, though a private person loves the sense of community and convenience at Rushall Park. Most days she walks around the local area, among the beautiful trees and gardens.

The transition from one of the original cottages to a services apartment was made easier by the light and sun that streams into her living room and the lovely nearby gardens. Claire is also has meals prepared for her each day. She is also comforted by the daily ‘check-in’ service provided by staff, to ensure she is doing well and managing.

Claire’s health is excellent and taking on the challenge of technology is not at all daunting. “I have always been prepared to have a go at something and to change,” she said. “Skype seems a lovely way to stay in touch with my grandson in America.”

City of Yarra’s Community Outreach and Engagement Officer, David Harding, was pleased with his student and believes her ‘light touch’ will make using the device easy. David said Claire was part of a pilot program that had proved very popular and he was pleased to be visiting her monthly for iPad lessons.

Reading online may still be a long way off, but Claire is prepared to do it if and when the time comes. She loves reading biographies, travel and art books.

“The woman who brings my books each month knows me now and there is usually an art or music book in the collection,” she said. Claire has the weekend papers delivered, but uses the ABC’s News 24, Q&A or the nearby Rushall Park library to catch up on news during the week.

“It’s a rich and full life I have had and it’s been very joyful.”

Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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