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'Granny Melba's' legacy cemented at village opening

Written by Michael Cummings
on April 05, 2019

The closest living link to Australian opera icon Dame Nellie Melba has officially opened the Melbourne retirement village named in her honour.

Lord Samuel Vestey, Dame Nellie's great grandson, travelled from the UK to Australia to open the Nellie Melba Retirement Village in Wheelers Hill.

Around 300 residents, staff and guests celebrated the opening of the $200 million village, with Lord Vestey joining Ryman Healthcare CEO Gordon MacLeod to officially hand over the village to its residents.

Lord Vestey toured the village and said he was impressed with what he saw.

"I'm only 78 but I'm seriously thinking of moving in here.

"It's a wonderful place. It's just the sort of thing Granny Melba would have been thrilled about and she would have been very pleased to lend her name to.''

Gordon said grand openings were all about saying thank you to the huge team of people who had contributed so much work.

"I remember the day we bought the site – it was the biggest investment in our history and we knew it had huge potential for this community.

"I guess the biggest drawcard was the shops and the ease of access to great amenities."

"Chief Development Officer Andrew Mitchell had a glint in his eye when he first spotted it, and we knew we had the opportunity to build something special here," Gordon said.

''The land was the right size and our success down the road at Weary Dunlop had proven that there was strong demand for a Ryman village in this part of Melbourne.

''So we bought it, and then our team of architects and designers led by Taylor Allison came up with this stunning design, which met with neighbour and with council approval.

''And then the hard work began for Travis Cocks and the rest of the construction team.

''Once the site was well under way we could start selling, and Eileen Kielty and the operations team began recruiting and preparing to welcome our first residents.

''Many of our employees here and around the country have put in countless hours to get us to the point we are at tonight, they have put in a huge effort and gone beyond the call of duty.''

Gordon's biggest vote of thanks went to the residents and their families for putting their faith in Ryman.

"This village will be a place of people and a place of compassion, and we're determined to create a proud legacy here." 

As part of its commitment to honouring Dame Nellie's legacy, Ryman Healthcare established a scholarship for an emerging operatic star through the Melba Opera Trust.

Samuel Piper, the inaugural recipient of the trust's Ryman Healthcare Scholarship, performed at the opening alongside fellow Melba Opera Trust scholars Tessa Hayward and Adam McMillan. 

For the statisticians, Gordon had plenty of facts.

Nellie Melba has been built with 458,800 bricks and 13,600 m3 of concrete in foundations and concrete floors.

That's about 2,200 concrete mixer loads.

The structure is supported by 332 tonnes of structural steel and the construction team has put in 664,687 hours of work.

And the team has installed 606 toilets. 

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