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106 trips around the sun for BaptistCare legend, Alf

Every 25 October, BaptistCare’s aged care team celebrate legend and centenarian Alf Bourne, one of Australia’s oldest volunteers, who this year turned an incredible 106.

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25 October 2021

Stories | Aged Care Homes

Alf celebrated his birthday with a morning tea surrounded by staff and residents and an afternoon tea with a special visit from his family this week.

Alf has lived through some of history’s most significant moments. These include World War II, the building of the Harbour Bridge, the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, the current health pandemic and Australia’s first COVID-19 outbreak in March last year at BaptistCare Dorothy Henderson Lodge, where he lives.

Alf says the last two years have been difficult, missing seeing special friends and family during the pandemic, but he’s hopeful things are changing.

“I always looked forward to the weekly meeting with Ross, the BaptistCare chaplain, and things are now opening up, so I am very grateful for that,” he said.

A life devoted to the service of others, Alf is BaptistCare’s oldest volunteer, having been a dedicated volunteer and Chaplain through BaptistCare and the churches he has attended.

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 since 2002.

Despite leaving school at 14 years old, Alf qualified to join the Public Service, and at one point was a volunteer ambulance driver.

“I worked as a Court Sheriff for most of my working life then auditing for the Auditor General. 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.”

Constantly 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 even to this day and says he is looking forward to being Santa again this year for residents and staff at Dorothy Henderson Lodge.

Always looking on the bright side, last year, having reached 105, Alf shared he was most grateful for being mobile, saying, “I am still able to propel my own wheelchair.”

And of his life at Dorothy Henderson Lodge: “The treatment I get here is outstanding. The staff are 100 per cent. They’ve been marvellous to me. I can’t praise them enough.”

Born in Petersham in 1915, Alf grew up in Sydney’s inner west. He married his wife, Grace, in Tempe in 1943, and they were married for 58 years before Grace sadly passed away in 2001.

Alf is a proud father, grandfather and now great-grandfather to his two great-grandsons, Logan and Edward.