Physical activity is a focus for Veteran’s Health Week this week (21-29 October).
For National Service Veteran John Lee, 83, a resident at Bolton Clarke’s Carrington community at Parkinson, that means tailor-made boxing training sessions with physiotherapist Francis Maker.
Francis works across the community developing physical activity programs that keep people motivated by drawing from their personal interests.
A standout example is the one-on-one boxing program he has designed for John, to work on his mobility, strength, coordination and stamina.
John is impacted by mobility issues but has always been active and is determined to keep fit and healthy.
“I suggested the boxing classes to John and he was very keen to give it a go. At this point we are really working on maintaining his current levels of fitness,” Francis said.
John finds the boxing classes to be very rewarding and enjoys spending one-on-one time with Francis doing a ‘boys thing’.
“I am now doing this about three times a week and I really enjoy it, it’s a fun way to stay active. Once we finish boxing classes we do balance classes,” he said.
John joined the Australian National Service in 1956. He still has strong connections to the Australian Armed Forces and served as the RSL Salisbury President and RSL Sunnybank Vice President for a number of years.
He was also among the first State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers in 1975, with member number 1864. He joined the service’s signals division to build on his Army experience as a signalman, and continued to don his orange overalls and attend meetings well after he moved into Carrington in 2015.
While continuing his voluntary service he worked as a stereotyper at the Brisbane Telegraph and later, when the newspaper moved away from hot metal production, held jobs as a cab driver, a market worker, a World Expo ’88 staffer and a security officer.
“He’s done everything,” chuckles Maureen, who kept busy organising their six children.
A highlight for John was when he helped country singer John Denver navigate the crowds outside Brisbane’s Festival Hall after a concert – he still has the whisky glass the star used on stage.
John and Maureen moved out of their home of 58 years and into the Carrington community in 2015 as John began to need more support due to the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. Initially John made the move and came home on weekends while Maureen prepared to join him a few months later.
These days they have adjacent rooms and enjoy sharing a movie and ice cream and supporting the Broncos and Cowboys in the NRL.