A tradition of care down the generations

A tradition of care down the generations

Lynette comes from a long nursing tradition, but when she became a client of Bolton Clarke (formerly RSL Care + RDNS) this year, she didn’t know she would be coming full circle.

The new name  of the organisation, announced in August, brings together the heritage of Veteran care that started with the work of Lynette’s grandfather, inaugural Returned Sailors and Soldiers League president Lieutenant Colonel William Kinsey Bolton, and the legacy of early Melbourne District Nursing Society stalwart Lady Janet Clarke.

Lynette is one of three granddaughters of Lieutenant Colonel Bolton who are a living link between the organisation today and its history  of compassion, care and respect.

These days she and cousin Helen, whose mothers were among Lieutenant Colonel Bolton’s nine children, live in adjacent units at St Kilda, where Lynette receives at-home support from a Bolton Clarke nursing team. Her older sister Margaret, who turned 90 this month, lives in residential aged care at Frankston.

All three women attended school in Melbourne before dedicating their lives to the nursing profession.

They are among five of Lieutenant Colonel Bolton’s grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who became nurses, inspired by a strong family tradition of service.

Early memories

“Grandpa (Lieutenant Colonel Bolton) built the family home, Gralam, at South Road, Brighton. He always had a house full of family, and we grew up in that atmosphere,” remembers Helen.

“Virtually every Sunday afternoon tea was a ceremony, and everybody went.

“Grannie (Margaret Ford) was Grandpa’s second wife, and she was born in New Zealand – her father was Scottish.

“Our Aunty, May Bolton, was one of his older children from his first marriage, and she lived with them at Brighton.”

It was Aunty May – one of four of Lieutenant Colonel Bolton’s children who went to war – who was the greatest inspiration for the family’s nursing tradition.

“When Aunty May returned from nursing in World War I she made up her mind that she would persuade as many of her nieces as she could to do nursing,” Margaret says.

“In total she was successful in getting five of the six of us to study and train as nurses, myself being one of those. “

“Aunty May was Deputy Matron at Salonica, Greece and she was awarded the Royal Red Cross,” adds Lynette.

“She inspired us all, and she had a lot to do with our upbringing.

“She looked after everybody and was always nurturing and caring, and fun-loving – she was always in fits of laughter, and she was the most magnificent cook you could imagine. She would make chocolates at Christmas time that were much anticipated by all the children around.”

Their greatest memory of Lieutenant Colonel Bolton is his dedication to his men.

“Grandpa was very caring and nurturing of his returned men. It was a tradition that the men came to Gralam with their families and children at Christmas time and pay their respects to Grandpa and Granny – he was always having one visitor after another,” says Helen.

“He also built houses in the suburb of Hampton for his returned men – they were really good quality, reasonably priced, brick homes. He really cared about making sure they had a roof over their heads.”

Family’s dedication to the community

Lynette trained at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and spent two years in England, where she studied midwifery before returning to Australia, where she continued nursing until she was 65.

Similarly, Helen dedicated her career to care, training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and working in midwifery, infant nursing, and at the school medical service. She also worked for the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) during her career.

“It was heavy work but a wonderful and rewarding experience,” she says.

Connection continues

Since March 2017, Lynette has received daily At-Home Support from Bolton Clarke.

“I have always been independent and have loved the outdoors – particularly camping and walking. I’ve been reluctant to go to a nursing home so I feel very lucky to receive home care help. If it wasn’t for receiving home care help, I’d have no option but to go into full care.

“With this arrangement, I have a revolving door of people coming and going, including three wonderful nurses who help me with the things I need. It’s amazing the difference a person can make in your life.”

Read more about Bolton Clarke’s ongoing work supporting independence and delivering practical, compassionate support in the organisation’s Year in Review.

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