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Howzat for a cricketing connection?

Julie and Doreen reuniting at Galleon Gardens

The Life Stories Project at Bolton Clarke Galleon Gardens has left residents and staff ‘bowled over’, unearthing a historical cricketing connection between resident Doreen Hazell and mature-aged social work student Julie Spring.

While on clinical placement, Julie was chatting with Doreen as they worked on her life story and spotted a tapestry depicting a cricket match in her room.

Doreen, whose late husband Brian Hazell was a cricket enthusiast and player in Sydney many years ago, had made the tapestry in his retirement years.

Julie says that during their conversation, the dots slowly started to connect.

“I mentioned to Doreen that Brian may have played in the same Sydney cricket competition as my father, Ken Spring,” she explained.

“Later that week I asked my mother and father if they recognised the name Brian Hazell and they both said yes! The connection was confirmed, and I arranged for my mother Carole to come to Galleon Gardens to visit Doreen and catch up on old times.”

Marvelling at the coincidence of their connection from another time and place, the two women were very excited to reminisce about the days many years ago when they both had young families, and supported their husbands sport every Saturday over the summer months in Sydney, New South Wales.

Brian and Ken began playing grade cricket around the 1954/55 season and continued for more than a decade, both spending time in the first grade.

Doreen and Carole laughed about how they used to term themselves ‘cricket widows’, with matches ruling the family’s yearly calendar.

“From weddings, christenings and holidays, like it or not, they were committed to every summer Saturday at the cricket,” Julie laughed.

“Back then the wives would create connections, keep an eye on the children, keep score from the score-table, and provide a delicious home-made afternoon tea for the players and their families, with their over-sized teapots, delicious home-made sandwiches, slices, and cakes.

 “Another job relegated to the wives was ensuring the cricket uniform - the whites - were sparkling white for the following Saturday, and that was no mean feat!”

Julie’s father Ken, now aged 89, remembers Doreen’s husband Brian wearing a white floppy hat and white zinc on his nose as they shared many a good contest with each other as batsmen, bowlers, and fielders, in the sport that consumed their passion, competitive nature and early years.

Many of the first grade players went on to play for New South Wales and Australia including Richie Benaud from Cumberland CC, Peter Philpot, Brian Booths, Norm O’Neil from St.George CC and Doug Walters from North Sydney CC.

The Life Stories Project uses narrative, reminiscence approaches to sharing memories and reflecting on past experiences to increase social connection, improve mood, and help residents find meaning and purpose in their lives.

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