The people of Barraba made sure to celebrate the occasion of lifelong resident Joyce Abra’s 100th birthday with a certain style, despite COVID-19 lockdowns.
On Thursday 22 May a long parade of people in around 70 cars drove slowly past Mrs Abra, who was seated in the portico of her residence, Richardson House, to honour her on her milestone birthday. Visitors paused to give their best wishes through car windows from a safe distance.
Mrs Abra, who says she doesnít feel a day over 70, was born a Halloran in the Upper Horton in 1920. She and husband Colin lived at ìKantaraî after both serving in the second world war. They had eight children together. Mrs Joyce later worked as a pre-school teacher with many Barraba people having fond memories of their time being taught by her.
Helen Rixon is the Administration Officer at Richardson House where Mrs Abra has lived for four years. ìWe celebrate every residentís birthday with a cake and a present. We treat all our residents as family, says Helen. When it became clear that the big party planned for Mrs Abraís birthday couldnít go ahead because of COVID-19 restrictions Helen said she knew they had to find another way.
Helen put the call out to Barraba and despite a rainy morning there was a line of cars filled with well wishers. Some brought musical instruments to serenade the birthday girl, with David Witten producing ìHappy Birthdayî on his trumpet from the street and Martin Unwin strumming a ukulele from his car.
People in nursing homes can struggle with feelings of isolation, and the lockdown could have exacerbated those feelings. Our Lifestyle Officers Rheni Austin and Kylie Stanger work hard to stimulate and entertain residents to minimise feelings of isolation. said Helen.
Richardson House staff treat our residents as if they were their own grandparents or parents, ì Helen says. Lifestyle Officer Rheni Austin says Mrs Abra felt the loss of not being able to celebrate with her family this week, but ìher Richardson House family were able to make her day as special as possible considering the circumstances. Rheni describes taking care of Mrs Abra as an ìabsolute delight.
Clearly Mrs Abraís community feel exactly the same way about recognising her special day.
By Jane Harris