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How BaptistCare at home has supported 101-year old Josef to keep up with this very unique hobby.

At 101 years young, BaptistCare at home client Josef has an incredible talent for crafting beautiful models – often with a Dutch twist that harks back to his childhood in Rotterdam, Holland.

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25 July 2023

News | Home Care

At 101 years young, BaptistCare at home client Josef is a remarkable person, with a truly unique hobby that exemplifies his creative talent, skill, and cultural heritage.

Josef has spent a lifetime crafting bespoke furniture and models that sing of his upbringing in Rotterdam, Holland, and his passion for crafting beautiful replicas has certainly continued well into his centenarian years.

His latest feat was a stunning series of 22 traditional Dutch windmill models, one for each of his beloved great-grandchildren. Josef personally presented them to each child at his 101st birthday party in 2022 – an event that saw some 70 guests come together to mark the occasion.

Josef became a client with BaptistCare at home just after his 100th birthday, in October 2020.

His care workers have loved getting to know Josef, providing not only the care he needs at home but also supporting him to keep up with a hobby that has always been such an important part of his life.

“The BaptistCare staff are very helpful, supporting me to get the necessary supplies from Bunnings and providing lots of encouragement in my work,” Josef says.

Josef’s Care Facilitator, Wendy, says that Josef has always been a positive thinker, working hard to stay mobile and avoid falls. “He takes great care to do his daily exercises,” she says, “Josef is keen to stay active, which for him includes keeping up with his model making.

“Josef’s beloved wife, Jenny, passed away in 2016, and I know he misses her a lot,” continues Wendy. “She was a gifted seamstress and would often sew the sails for the numerous model sailing ships in Josef’s collection.”

Since Jenny’s passing, Josef has said how much the companionship of BaptistCare staff has made a difference for him, with the daily contact and social interaction helping to combat feelings of isolation.

As for Wendy and her team, getting to know Josef and his inspirational story has been a real privilege.

Josef spent his entire childhood playing on the banks of the busy Maas River in Rotterdam, Holland. The many hours that he spent watching ships and river barges travelling past his home each day are the inspiration for much of his work today.

Having emigrated to Australia in 1952 with Jenny and their two young children, Josef settled in the Northern Rivers of NSW, quickly followed by his brother Jack and his own family.

The two brothers soon went into business together, building furniture to order, and later, starting a second-hand furniture dealership which eventually became a well-respected and hugely successful retail furniture and floor-covering business in Ballina.

With a growing family to raise and a business to run, Josef had little time for anything else, but once he reached retirement age, his passion for model-making really took off.

For over thirty years now, Josef has enjoyed designing and building creations that include grandfather clocks, tables and chairs, dressing tables, fully furnished dolls houses, wooden light fittings, mirror stands, toy trucks and cranes, historical sailing ship models such as The Endeavor and The Batavia, and of course, his perfect replicas of the traditional Dutch windmill.

Josef’s connections to his homeland are also strong socially – he is amazingly still in touch with a close childhood friend, Maree, who still lives in Holland and will soon celebrate her 100th birthday.

When asked what the secret is to his longevity, Josef says life is about having a “can do” attitude. “I have always worked hard and have tried to keep a positive outlook in all that I do,” he says.

Josef is looking forward to celebrating his 102nd birthday in September.

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