Riding his way into the next century

Riding his way into the next century

It was a motorbike that brought Albert (Bert) Drury and his late wife Jean together – a marriage he describes as the “best thing I ever did”.

It’s high praise given Bert’s 100-years have been full of accomplishments, including time serving for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in Port Moresby and a long career as a bush carpenter known far and wide as “Mr Fixit”.

Bert, who celebrated his milestone birthday with family and friends at Bolton Clarke’s Galleon Gardens community at Currumbin, grew up at Lithgow where he loved fishing, bee-keeping, shooting, hockey and motorbike riding.

He had admired Jean as a hockey player and when he met her at a dance, it only took a ride on his bike and the kind gesture of asking if she was comfortable to start a lifelong romance.

He proposed on Christmas Day, 1938, and the happy pair were married in 1940 at the Presbyterian Church in Lithgow, before enjoying their honeymoon at Manly.

“We seemed to have known each other forever,” Jean wrote in a history of their life prepared for the family.

Together, the couple went on to have three sons. The family now includes nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Bert worked as a coal miner and then at a rubber works before joining the RAAF in 1943, where he served up until 1946.

A passionate Carpenter by trade, he started out with friends in a joinery business after the war, and worked there for more than 27 years before taking a role as a foreman for another seven years.

Outside of his work and family commitments, he continued to nurture his other great love – motorbikes.

In honour of this lifelong interest, veteran motorcyclists and members of the BSA Club, Military Brotherhood and Ulysses Motorcycle Club joined in the celebrations at Galleon Gardens to help Bert rekindle fond memories.

Staff and residents joined with Bert’s family and friends to celebrate his birthday, complete with a cake, a letter from the Queen and, of course, a chance to get on the bike again.

Bert’s verdict? There’s a lot more buttons than there used to be!

Bolton Clarke supports more than 150 Centenarians across Australia through at-home support services, retirement living and residential aged care. The organization recently launched the Centenarian Club, which aims to create new opportunities to honour and record the lives of residents, build relationships and reinforce their sense of identity and continuation of their story.

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