When Mary Wilkins moved into a stunning serviced apartment at Ryman Healthcare’s John Flynn Retirement Village a decade’s old link to the village’s namesake and Royal Flying Doctor Service founder was unearthed.
“My brother in-law, John Wilkins, was the Chief Electrical Engineer at Box Hill and when he took over the role in amongst all of the files he acquired was a collection of photos, negatives, telegrams and letters all relating to the Royal Flying Doctor,” Mary said.
An avid historian, when Mary moved into John Flynn Retirement Village in 2023, John realised the documents he had kept since retiring in 1990, had finally found a home.
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“When Mary shifted and I found out ‘John Flynn’ was the name of the village I thought ‘that name rings a bell’,” he said.
John gifted the files, which he had carefully compiled to include typed descriptions of the photos and letters, to Mary.
A proud member of her new community, Mary has offered for the collection to be displayed at the village.
Among the files was a copy of the now famous image of a RFDS De Havilland Dragon aircraft leaving Veldt Station, 170 kilometres north of Broken Hill, in 1948. The photo features Judith Jackson as a young girl with her mother Helen Barlow as the De Havilland takes off.
The iconic image features on the current $20 note.
Other photos in the collection formed part of an early promotional shoot for the RFDS, including one of a man on the ground with medical staff surrounding him after he was ‘crushed by a horse’.
Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria Education Program Manager Tom Ryan said while it was unknown how the collection came to be at the Box Hill Electricity Supply head office on Station St, the nearby St Andrew’s Uniting (formerly Presbyterian) Church on Whitehorse Rd was the likely link.
John Flynn was the first leader of the Australian Inland Mission which was founded by the Presbyterian Church. Later the Aerial Medical Service was established, and in 1955 it became the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Mary said she was delighted both she and the historical items had found a new home at the village.
“I’m so fortunate to be here,” she said.
“I walked in, and I felt at home straight away.
“The other residents, staff and management are lovely.”
Assisted-living apartments at John Flynn Retirement Village provide support to make life easier including a daily chef-prepared meal and housekeeping so there is more time to enjoy life.
The final stage of brand-new serviced apartments at John Flynn are selling now.
To find out more phone: 1800 314 425 or visit: www.rymanhealthcare.com.au/retirement-villages/melbourne/john-flynn