By Mick Jensen
Residents and supporters of Methven House have been entertained and taken a trip down memory to celebrate 40 years of the aged care facility.
A public open day included visits from local preschoolers, primary and secondary school students, who all entertained with song and music and then mingled with the seniors.
There was also an information board inside one of the marquees set up for the occasion, which detailed, through press cuttings, the community’s effort to establish the aged care venue four decades ago.
Speakers at the celebratory event included Simon Ballantyne and Derek Glass, who were both part of a committed community group that helped get things up and running.
Others reliving the early days of Methven House included Colin Watson and Kathryn McKendry.
The official opening of Methven House took place on April 3, 1977 after the formation of the Methven Aged Care Welfare Committee.
Derek Glass, who was on that original committee and remains a committee member today, said half a dozen strong minded ladies had started off the movement to establish a facility to care for the township’s elderly.
“Some called them ‘bolshie’, or ‘do good ladies’, but they had drive and determination and they were able to get things done. They certainly stirred up community interest,” said Mr Glass.
“We did have a bit of luck early on, because a legacy of $15,000 enabled us to put in an offer for the old Methven Cottage Hospital that was owned by the Ashburton Hospital Board.
“We also went door to door and received pledges and donations totalling $80,000, which was staggering really, and showed us that the community wanted this facility.”
As Methven House established itself through the 1980s, two flats, designed for residents to live independently, were built on nearby land.
Two more flats were added later and in 1999 a service was introduced for residents to have the option to obtain meals, house keeping, personal care and medication.
Derek Glass said a dedicated group of volunteers ran all aspects of Methven House in those early years.
Thousands of volunteer hours had covered cooking, cleaning and maintenance duties and also helped manage the tight finances.
A change in regulations in the late 1980’s had changed all that, said Mr Glass, and paid labour was brought in to run Methven House.
The days of killing a steer to support Methven House have long gone, but donations of vegetables, fruit and baking are still regularly received from the community.
Methven Care Trust unveiled concept plans for a new, modern aged care facility in Methven at a public launch in August 2015. It will be built on land donated by the Lochhead Trust.
The project is likely to cost $5 million and Methven Care Trust has $500,000 in the bank at present.
More fundraising ventures are in the pipeline in October and November and profits from a leased farm also support the project. Community funding will be applied for at a later date.