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Simon and Joan Hilton: A love that spanned a lifetime

The story of Joan and Simon Hilton, two much-loved residents at BaptistCare Orana aged care home on NSW’s picturesque Central Coast.

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25 November 2022

Stories | Aged Care Homes

Simon and Joan Hilton: A love that spanned a lifetime

At BaptistCare, we love to hear the unique stories of our customers and celebrate the diverse, rich life experiences that make up our resident community.

The story of Joan and Simon Hilton, two much-loved residents at BaptistCare Orana aged care home on NSW’s picturesque Central Coast, can’t help but capture the imagination with their shared love of adventure and unwavering devotion to one another for more than six decades.

Despite growing up on opposite sides of the world, the couple met several years after Simon’s family emigrated to Australia from the UK in 1949. Their paths crossed during the excitement of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and they were immediately smitten with one other, marrying just a few years later. As their family grew to include two children, their adventurous spirit and love of European history saw them travel the world on an ocean liner, spending many years in England and France, before returning to Australia in the 1980s to enjoy a quieter life and, eventually, retirement. They settled in a beautiful nook on the Central Coast called Woy Woy Bay, where they spent many wonderful years.

Happy times: The couple pose in front of one of Simon’s beloved sports car projects

During their working lives, Simon and Joan were business partners too, making entrepreneurial leaps and bounds over the decades. From turning Simon’s love of building sports cars into a reputable business, to life-jacket manufacturing, to furniture restoration and crafting bespoke four-poster beds, together they had a knack for business with the perfect combination of Joan’s friendly and effortless sales skills, and Simon’s engineering mindset.

Simon was in his mid-eighties when he suffered a fall whilst mowing the lawn. It wasn’t long afterwards that he needed major heart surgery, and when he fell again just a short time later, it became clear that Simon would be safer and well cared for in a residential care home.

The family went about making enquiries for a suitable home where Simon would feel comfortable. His daughter, Lisa, said she called around several facilities on his behalf, initially seeking just one thing – a kind and caring person at the other end of the phone.

“BaptistCare had this in abundance,” she said.

“Having been invited in to look around, I selected BaptistCare Orana at Point Clare, with its lovely garden setting, beautiful decor, plenty of light, and most importantly, delightful staff.”
– Lisa Hilton, daughter of residents Simon and Joan.

Simon took the move to BaptistCare Orana completely in his stride, making an easy transition. He adjusted well to life in residential care, quickly becoming known for his ‘lovely smile.’ Lisa said he found the staff friendly and welcoming, and with the support of the care home’s lifestyle coordinator, he was able to settle in quickly, actively participating in the leisure activity program and making friends in the process.

Simon was a fierce competitor in group word games, also enjoying music classes and his regular physio sessions. He was captivated by the incredible live music performances that the staff would often arrange for Orana residents, when COVID-19 restrictions allowed.

“They were still so deeply in love, all those years later. They really couldn’t bear to be apart from one another.”

Simon was rarely seen without his devoted wife at his side, with Joan visiting daily. She too became a familiar presence at Orana, caring for her husband, chatting with residents and staff, and easily winning her own friends with her relaxed and cheerful manner.

When Simon and Joan reached their 62nd wedding anniversary in 2021, BaptistCare staff held a party in their honour with cake, balloons, and presents. It was a joyful event for the couple, creating treasured memories for them, the staff, and the many family members and friends who joined the celebration.

The Hiltons celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary at BaptistCare Orana residential care home in 2021.

Reflecting on that time, the couple’s daughter Lisa said, “They were still so deeply in love, all those years later. They really couldn’t bear to be apart from one another.”

Simon sadly passed away in the winter of 2021. As his family grieved, a COVID-19 lockdown was set in place, continuing for several months. Joan and Lisa found themselves locked down together in the couple’s home, grieving and supporting one another as they dealt with the loss of their dear husband and father.

Just a few months later, Joan herself suffered a stroke which left her partially paralysed and in need of a wheelchair. When residential care was recommended for her, it was an easy choice of where to go; Joan’s ‘home away from home’ at BaptistCare Orana.

Despite the challenges of adjusting to her significantly changed circumstances, Joan was fully supported by the staff at BaptistCare Orana who assisted her with regular physiotherapy, pain and medication management, and exercise and leisure activities that were inclusive of her reduced mobility. She immediately felt at home in the same ‘Magnolia wing’ where she had so often visited Simon, surrounded by the familiar, friendly faces of staff and residents that she now knew so well.

Joan has now lived at Orana for over nine months. She is often found enjoying the peaceful, tranquil gardens with her daughter Lisa, who visits regularly, or sitting with one of her friends, overlooking the hustle and bustle of Point Clare and enjoying the dramas that often unfold on the cricket oval across the road.

With her friendly, easy-going nature, Joan is popular amongst both staff and residents. She loves to get involved in the many leisure activities on offer at the care home and is a key player at the ever-popular Bingo games. More than anything though, Joan looks forward to the community excursions that BaptistCare staff regularly arrange, where residents of all mobility levels are happily whisked away to some of the Central Coast’s most scenic spots, including the peaceful seaside village of Patonga, where Joan holds many treasured memories of picnics with her family.

Joan and Simon enjoy a family picnic to celebrate Simon’s 80th birthday, with their children Lisa and Andy at Patonga Beach, NSW.

Sharing such stories and memories with BaptistCare is humbling for our staff – we feel honoured to know and care for residents like the Hiltons.

Joan will always miss her beloved Simon, and having shared a full, long, and happy life with another human being is certainly something to be marvelled at. However, even without him by her side, she is grateful for her good health, the company of friends and staff at BaptistCare Orana, and a new, fulfilling chapter of life to embrace.

Where can I find an aged care home near me?

If you would like to find out more about residential aged care homes, why not book a tour at one of our aged care home and see for yourself what life will be like?

Use our simple online search tool to explore BaptistCare Aged Care Home locations  across New South Wales and the ACT.

Our well-trained staff can support a broad range of care needs to suit each of our residents: from those who are still fairly independent, to the ones with complex needs such as people living with dementia, right through to end of life care. We are here to be that extra support families need in ensuring their loved ones are well cared for and feel safe. Contact BaptistCare to find out how we can help you.

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