Audrey Strong is quick to admit her new home at Ryman Healthcare’s Nellie Melba Retirement Village is something special.
Having led a busy life as 'Wren' in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, a mother, and as a singer for, and close friend of, showbiz legend Stuart Wagstaff, Audrey is used to keeping busy.
But when COVID-19 forced people into their homes, and 93-year-old Audrey started going “days on end” without seeing neighbours, she realised she was isolated.
“I was in a very nice unit in Bayswater, but it was in a block of seven, and everyone else in the block worked so I never saw anybody for days on end and I became lonely,” she said.
“I looked at Nellie Melba and this place got to me.
“It’s something special.
“A lot of it is to do with the staff, they are great, and the sales advisors were very, very helpful.”
Despite moving into the Wheelers Hill village during the height of COVID-19, Audrey has not worried about anything.
“I have no concerns about catching the virus here because they are frequently checking people’s temperatures and I was tested before I moved in, as well as completing 14 days quarantine upon arriving,” she said.
With a fridge stocked full of treats, and the village team popping by to help hang artworks and turn her apartment into a home, Audrey is enjoying time to reflect on her life so far.
“I joined the navy when I was 17, my parents didn’t want me to join but I kept on and on and they eventually signed the papers,” she said.
“Stuart Wagstaff was often at the stations and he overheard me singing to myself and said, ‘oh yes, we can do something with you’ and through that I met my husband Des.”
After four years serving in the navy in Malta, Audrey and Des followed the path of friends who transferred to the Australian Navy.
“At the time there were lots of women in the Navy,” she said.
“We had a lot of fun.”
The move to the village marked the start of a new chapter in life, she said.
“It’s marvelous, just marvelous.
“I’ve got a good view stretching all the way to the Police Academy.
“Before moving here, a friend said she had met a lot of people who knew people who had moved here, and they were all very happy.
“And I’m happy too.”