Anne Bamforth says she has lived a busy, beautiful life so far… and she clearly has plenty of busy and beautiful living yet to do. Her latest move in retirement is helping to make that happen, despite being in the midst of a global health pandemic.
Anne was born in Bermuda Village, Warwickshire, England – a very long way from where she lives now in Skye, Victoria! She was one of five children – she had two brothers and two sisters – her dad worked as a miner and her mum kept busy at home.
Upon finishing her senior schooling at age 11, Anne took a job in a hosiery factory in the next town. It was there that her interest in sewing blossomed and it was that job that led her to a successful career as a seamstress.
“The money was good if you worked hard,” says Anne. So, work hard was what she did. But she enjoyed a lively social life too.
By age 28 Anne and a friend had moved to Blackpool – they found jobs there and took a flat together. On the last night of Illuminations – a light festival that everyone must see at least once in their lifetime – Anne went to the Queens Hotel to watch some big-name stars performing on stage. She also met a young man named Alan Bamforth – the two married in 1969.
Some years later, Anne and Alan got talking with friends and together they decided they were looking for adventure. They found it on the other side of the world. The two couples, with their young families – Anne and Alan had a three-year-old daughter Lisa by this time – took a flight to Singapore and then boarded a ship bound for Sydney. Australian newspapers were dropped by helicopter to the ship on route, and upon reading them the job prospects in Melbourne looked great, so that is where the families settled.
“We found somewhere to live in St Kilda and Alan got a job at Melford Motors right away,” says Anne. “The job had lots of perks, including a car. We worked hard, we saved hard and the car meant we were never at home. Sundays were family day and so almost every Sunday we found a new place to visit.”
The interest in adventure that brought the family to Australia stayed with them. They took many trips overseas, including back home to England, as well as to destinations around Australia. Queensland was a favourite.
They also moved home several times – living in Carnegie, Hallum and Hampton Park in Melbourne, as well as in Lakes Entrance – each time improving the house they’d bought before selling it and moving to another.
Sadly, after a short illness, Alan passed away 12 years ago. Five months after Anne lost Alan, on New Year’s Eve she lost her daughter Lisa because of kidney failure. It was a devastating time for Anne, but she will remain forever grateful for the support she received from friends and family.
“I got myself going again – you never get over it, but you get by,” says Anne. “I started going on holidays with friends, to Queensland and on cruises. I visited England three times and even had friends from England who’d I’d grown up with come and visit me.”
“My niece Diane often visited me at home and one day said to me, this house is too big for you now.”
“I didn’t think I had any interest in going into a retirement village. I loved my house and my garden. I didn’t think I needed to move.”
“But Diane said, just come and have a look at this place I’ve found. It was Oak Tree Retirement Village Skye."
“It was lovely. It wasn’t too big. The gardens were beautiful, and I could still have a garden of my own. It had a real sense of community and family. And it was new.”
“I liked it straight away but decided not to put a deposit down until I sold my house. When my house sold the day I put it on the market, I signed up to Oak Tree."
“I still do all the things I used to do before I moved here, but I also do a whole lot more. I do like to give new things a go. Craft, bingo, games nights, bus trips, morning teas, shopping trips – that’s just the start. But there’s also never any pressure to join in with things if you don’t feel like it.”
“Of course, with COVID-19 some of these organised activities have had to go on hold. But the friendships and companionship haven’t. I can step outside my villa and have a chat with a neighbour or I can invite them in for a cup of tea. Even just exchanging a friendly wave is enough to brighten your day. If one of us is going to the shops, we’ll offer to pick up shopping for the others. We’ve really pulled together.”
“At times like these and always, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m so happy and feel so safe and secure. I’m living a beautiful life here.”