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A legend at BaptistCare, Alf lives a life devoted to being of service to others
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Alf Bourne is somewhat of a legend to us at BaptistCare, so many lives of our residents and staff have been touched by Alf. He has lived a life devoted to being of service to others, and we’d like to honour and celebrate Alf on his 105th birthday – what a milestone!
For over 40 years, Alf has been a dedicated volunteer and Chaplain through his church and with BaptistCare. His Chaplaincy work continues today, as he spends time with his fellow aged care residents at BaptistCare's Macquarie Park site, where he has lived (first at Willandra Village and then at Dorothy Henderson Lodge) since 2002.
Always seeking to bring the gift of joy to others, Alf has dressed in a red suit and white beard every Christmas since the early 1980s. His first appearance as Santa was at the Eastwood Shopping Centre and later Carlingford Court Shopping Centre. He continues this tradition today, dressing up as Santa each Christmas for the residents, families and staff at BaptistCare’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge.
When, on the occasion of his 103rd birthday, we asked Alf what his secret was to living a long life, he was happy to share his insight:
“I’ve been living the Christian life since 1930 after I gave my life to God to look after me, and He has done so ever since. He is the one, the one that’s caring for my heart and keeping it going today,” he said.
Born in Petersham in 1915, Alf grew up in Sydney’s inner west. He married his wife, Grace, in Tempe in 1943. They were married for 58 years before Grace sadly passed away in 2001. Alf is a very proud father, grandfather and now great-grandfather to his two great-grandsons, Logan and Edward.
We sat down with Alf on the occasion of this milestone birthday to find out more about this remarkable and generous man.
Q. Happy 105th Birthday Alf! Where were you born?
I was born on the 25th October, 1915 in Petersham and grew up in Tempe.
Q. Do you have any siblings?
I was the eldest of five children. I had two brothers, Frederick and Edward. My two sisters were Marj and Irene.
Q. Where did you live for most of your life?
I lived in Tempe for the first eighteen years of my life. I moved around a lot with my work living approximately three years in each location: Hay, Armidale, Dubbo, Albury and Campbelltown. I then moved to Epping for a number of years then moved to BaptistCare Macquarie Park in 2000, firstly to Willandra Village and then I moved to Dorothy Henderson Lodge in 2012.
Q. Can you tell us about your family?
I married Grace in 1933 when I was eighteen years old. We had one daughter, Lynette and she had two children, Juliet and Stuart. I am enjoying having contact with my great grandchildren.
Q. What did you do for work and do you have some stand-out memories from that time?
I left school at 14 years of age. I managed to qualify to join the Public Service, which was a miracle. I worked as a Court Sheriff for most of my working life then as an Auditor in the same department.
I remember when I was in Hay, I was vice-chairman of the Hay Hospital Board. I also was a volunteer ambulance driver. One of my most memorable emergency drives was going all the way to Sydney which was 500 miles, dodging kangaroos and driving down the wrong side of the road in the inner area of Sydney, with my hand on the horn.
Another wonderful memory was when I moved to Armidale, I was asked if I could help to nurture and mentor 11 child delinquents who were school truants. By God’s grace, I steered them in the right direction and they attended the Sunday school I taught at. They were shown a lot of love and good discipline which enabled them to mature and change for the better.
Q. Do you have other memories that are a highlight for you?
The highlight of the year is when I play Santa at Dorothy Henderson Lodge. I was also Santa for four years at Eastwood Shopping Centre and also for five years at Carlingford Court Shopping Centre. Often, I would love to share the real meaning of Christmas.
Q. What are you looking forward to, as you turn 105?
I have so many wonderful friends and staff here at Dorothy Henderson Lodge, I want to be here for them.
Q. What advice can you give us about living a long life?
Talk to God a lot about making the right decisions. Having a personal relationship is vital. Prayer is so important.
Dignity is very important. I always like to be well dressed mostly wearing a white shirt with a tie.
I still get up at 5am each morning.
I still love taking responsibility and leadership. I say grace for the midday meal each day.
Q. What do you look forward to in the coming year?
Being Santa again at Christmas time. If the Lord wants me to be here a bit longer to serve Him, that will make me happy.
Q. What is your clearest childhood memory?
My clearest childhood memory is of my minister from the Tempe Church of Christ. He was like a second father to me. He would give jobs to people during the Depression years to work in his pickle factory and give food hampers to the needy.
Q. What is your favourite part of the day?
I love being wakened up at 5am each morning. I idolise the carers, as they really give me tender loving care.
Q. What are you most grateful for?
I am very grateful that I am still mobile. I am still able to propel my own wheel chair.
Q. What would you like for your 106th birthday?
I would like to be in heaven – but that depends on God.
Alf, you’re an extraordinary man who has given much in your 105 years of life. You’re an inspiration to all of us. Happy 105th Birthday from all of your friends at BaptistCare.