Meet one of our friendly residents at Bethanie Warwick, Russell Hosken.
Meet Russell. Being close to family and the necessities is most important to him. He has three children living less than 20-minutes away and has the Warwick shopping centre just down the road from his apartment at Bethanie Warwick Retirement Village.
Although he now lives a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle, his story started on a sheep and wheat farm in Wickepin - a town in the wheatbelt region about 45 kilometres east of Narrogin, Western Australia.
“My father bought the farm through soldier settlement after the First Great War. I was the eldest of four children and the only son,” Russell said.
“We all attended the Wickepin State School and the journey to school from the farm was about 45-minutes. The farm was about 29 kilometres to Wickepin town and 64 kilometres to nearest hospital.”
After leaving school, Russell helped his dad on the farm before being conscripted to the army in 1942. After initial training at Northam he was drafted into Heavy Artillery and Radar service on Rottnest Island. He was granted four weeks leave in December 1942 and 1943 to help his dad with harvesting wheat. In 1943 he was transferred to postings in the eastern states.
Russel’s father was President of the Wickepin Roads Board (now referred to as Shire of Wickepin). In 1946, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester visited Wickepin whilst on a train tour of the country. As President, Russell’s father was lucky enough to host the Royals during their visit.
“Ex-service men and women had the privilege of meeting them, and my mother had the honour of introducing me to the Duchess,” he said.
In 1949 Russell married Ailsa, a girl he had known all through his school years. They went on to have have four children; two sons and two daughters. Sadly, their first daughter passed within weeks of birth. Their eldest son, Bevan, contracted polio just prior to his sixth birthday and just after their youngest daughter was born.
Bevan was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital and then The Golden Age Rehabilitation Centre for about 12-months. He wanted to be a pilot, and fortunately, with much determination he managed to build the strength in his leg affected by polio, went to a flying school and was dux of his course.
“He was the pilot for the Royal Flying Doctor service in Wyndham and later flew with Ansett until the company’s collapse,” Russell said.
With all of Bevan’s health issues with polio, and Russell suffering heat stroke whilst harvesting, in 1960 the Hosken family sold the wheat and sheep farm in Wickepin and moved to a small poultry farm in Wanneroo.
“To supplement income in the early years, Ailsa nursed, and I drove a school bus. We started rearing day-old chickens and added sheds for caged laying hens. In the end, we finished up with around 5000 laying hens,” he said.
The children were all good helpers on the farm over the weekends, however once they left school, they no longer had time to help and it was now time to sell the farm.
Russell and Ailsa moved into a house in the Wanneroo townsite. Russell found work at the vegetable markets for a store holder, packing and delivering orders for restaurants and boarding schools.
“I didn’t enjoy the 4.30am starts although finished about midday. Next, I worked for builders fitting curtains into display and private homes until I retired,” he said.
One day, Russell’s wife fell ill. She received respite care from the old Bethanie Warwick Aged Care Home.
“When she (Russell’s wife) was due to come home, I happened to ask the Manager at the time if there were any apartments left in the Retirement Village,” he said.
Luckily for Russell, there was one apartment that had just had a fresh lick of paint and a few touch‑ups. The couple took the opportunity and moved into Bethanie Warwick in 2007.
“I got to know a lot of my neighbours because I used to collect and drop-off everyone’s mail – everyone here loves a good chat,” he chuckled.
Now, Russell meets his neighbours in the Village common areas for morning tea once a week, takes part in a couple of the activities on offer and enjoys the fantastic local surrounds as much as he is able.
For more information on the newly refurbished apartments at Bethanie Warwick, call 131 151 or visit www.bethanie.com.au/retirement-living/warwick-no-worries