News & Events

Train project triggers lost memories

December 10, 2016

Model trains capture most little boys’ hearts and imaginations. But it seems grown men and a few grown women are just as interested. Liscombe House’s model train set was launched this month after a year of design and development and thanks to the generosity of a resident’s family.


Last year the resident, a one-time collector of model train pieces, joined the Liscombe House community and soon after the model train set arrived. The Men’s Group wasted no time building the large 3m by 1.5m base and setting up the tracks with help from volunteers from the Eltham Model Railway Club, who assessed the workability of the locomotives and tracks and helped with any restoration.


Men’s Group members, led by Lifestyle Assistant Adrian Onofrio, built scenery from paper mache and other bits of equipment needed to enhance the track and trains. Volunteers who turn up regularly to support the Men’s Group added their knowledge and enthusiasm.


The launch of the train set was a moving event for many of the residents, family members and volunteers who attended, including Adrian. Some of the men who helped on the project have dementia, or other conditions, but the experience triggered childhood memories for some.


“The men didn’t need to have any knowledge of trains, or any memory of what we had done in the last session, in order to participate. They came to the group and we worked on something on that day, like building paper mache mountains and painting them. It was a physical activity, a social event and had cognitive benefits,” Adrian said.


One Men’s Group member, Lindsay Phillips, who died recently, was honoured at the launch with a one of the straights named in his honour. There’s also a Liscombe Railway Station, Men’s Shed Mountain and an Ivor Pass, in honor of the donor.


“Lindsay’s Dad had been a train driver and he used to often tell us stories and had plenty to say about the train and the track gauges. Sometimes he didn’t say anything, he just sat and considered what was happening,” Adrian said.


“Even at the launch some of the regular participants may not have realized they had helped build the whole thing, but on the day they really enjoyed it. Other men were fully aware and they were so proud of their involvement and what they had done, pointing out to people what they had made or painted,” he said.


“The smiles on the faces of those who love the train set was worth all the effort.”


The train set is too big for a permanent spot at Liscombe House but Adrian will set it up regularly and there may be a change of scenery on the cards.


Adrian always wanted a train set as a little boy and he has discovered you are never too old for trains.

"There is nothing I would change that would make my life any better. I have two loving sons and family and I thank God every day that OCAV took me in when I had nothing," said Jill Dale, Braeside Park resident.

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