Apart from visiting Hobart for a short stay in hospital, Vonda Cottingham has never left Launceston – and still finds this corner of the world as beautiful as ever.
The 82-year-old has lived at Uniting AgeWell Newnham Community Aldersgate Village for the past 18 months, and cannot imagine leaving the area and all that she holds dear.
And with a new 30-bed wing in the $10.9 million revamp and development at Aldersgate Village now open, this option is available to many more,.
The new development includes a hair salon, lovely dining and lounge spaces, a commercial laundry and a state-of-the-art kitchen, as well as a community centre for the nearby independent living unit residents. It also incorporates dementia-friendly designs including a sensory garden.
Senior Care Manager Audette Groenewold says the new wing has a cosy fireplace, and with any luck it will snow again this winter, turning the village into a postcard winter wonderland once again.
Vonda is also crossing fingers for an encore snow show. “It was so beautiful last year, I’d never seen snow before,” she says.
Vonda remembers growing up in the suburb of Invermay and getting out and about on a horse and cart, before her family bought a ute. “Life was very simple then,” Vonda says. “These days kids have all these electronic gadgets and mobile phones, it’s a different world.”
Vonda and her late husband, Albert, moved to the suburb of Mowbray and have four children and five grandchildren who still all live in Launceston.
When her children were growing up, Vonda spent many happy hours walking with them along the River Tamar and going to the nearby orchards to pick apples. “The kids were good walkers. We’d also go for drives around the area, it was very pretty, there was always something to see,” she says.
Vonda lived on her own after Albert died but things changed after she was hospitalised in Hobart after her fall. “I needed a bit of care, so I decided to move in here.”
Now when she looks through the windows at Aldersgate Village she can see the stunning view of the Tamar River as well as Launceston. “The area is part of me and close to everything I love. What more could I possibly expect from life?”
Vonda was soon to find out.
She’s made a lot of friends, takes part in all the activities, is excited about concerts being put on again now that COVID restrictions have lifted, says the staff are very caring and has become quite a whiz at bingo.
“I’ve been winning chocolates,” Vonda explains, “but my stomach is a bit sensitive so I give them to a friend instead.”