My Journey with Creswick Hospital

Creswick Hospital


My journey with Creswick Hospital began in 1950 when, at 16 years old, I came to Creswick as a student at the Victorian School of Forestry.

The School was established in 1910 in what we know as Tremearne House – formerly the residence of Dr John Tremearne- a local medico – and was relocated into the original Creswick Hospital building in 1913 when the hospital was re-established in its present location.

The old hospital was converted to class rooms and residential accommodation for its students, and the original buildings still constituted the major part of the School when I came here.

E J Semmens was Principal of the School at the time. He was also a member of the Hospital Board and had been for years beforehand and was its President From 1949 to 1951.

There was a fairly close relationship between the School and the Hospital at the time, possibly because of É J Semmens dual roles and interests, and the School’s student body was seen as a ready source of labour for tasks needing support from the community. Students benefited from the relationship too, the Hospital being the principal source of income for our sports fund through students each cutting an allocated portion of the hospitals annual firewood requirements- firewood being the heat source for hot water, cooking and heating.

We also enjoyed hospital functions such as the annual garden party and more particularly the hospital ball. The students also ran fund raising activities themselves with the proceeds being shared 50/50 between our sports fund and the hospital. One such event was a concert organised by Tom Morrison, the son of the wildlife expert of the day, Crosbie Morrison. Cinderella was one of the skits. I was the announcer to set the scene and I remember, with hardly anyone on the stage, my line was “The Prince’s ball we now are at, there’s hardly room to swing a cat”.

I don’t recall any of my fellow students connecting with the nurses at the hospital, the emphasis for this being towards Ballarat.

I came back to Creswick as part of the staff of the School of Forestry in 1969, with Margaret as my wife and with our then three children. Later that year Margaret had our fourth child, Scott at the Creswick Hospital.

In November 1974 Margaret was recruited to the Hospital Auxiliary. This meant that from then on I could be and was called on to assist in setting up or otherwise for Auxiliary fund raising activities such as the Hospital Ball or the Annual Garden Party or any other Auxiliary activity. She is still involved in this with others of you, the most recent meeting being last night.

Two years later I was invited to join the Hospital Board. The following year I became Vice-President and shortly after, the then president, Alan Eddy, moving on to Melbourne, I landed into the role of President. (I am not the only member of the Club to have had this role – Neville Cartledge followed me in 1980 and Joan McMillan was President in 1988 and 1989 – Elaine Wrigley’s husband, Colin, was President 1975 to 1977).

I continued on the Board through its transition with Daylesford Hospital into Western Highlands Health Service in 1994 and, with Clunes and Trentham Hospitals into Hepburn Health Service in 1998 but finished as a member before it became Central Highlands Health Service with Kyneton Hospital A few years ago

As a Board member I was involved through the years in a number of fund raising activities for our hospital, regular 3CV Mothers Day Appeals, the appeal for funds to establish John Curtin Aged Care, and the 1992 appeal to raise a million dollars to save our Hospitals acute care function.

I thought that was all over when I left the health service Board about six years ago.

But I was wrong as I was asked earlier this year to chair an appeal to raise $150,000 to meet a shortfall in the funding available to complete the upgrade of the Creswick Hospital and Nursing Home.

The nursing home has been redeveloped over the last three years from a series of two and three bed bedrooms with shared bathrooms, into a first class 30 bed aged care facility that we can be very proud of. The final stage of the redevelopment is to bring the acute part of the facility to a similar condition.

Our appeal has been running now for several months and we now have just over $90 thousand of the $150 thousand we are trying to raise.

As the age group most likely to make use of the enhanced facility it is in the best interests of each of us for the appeal to reach its target. If you would like to help please talk to me or to Aileen or Margaret (who are also part of our fundraising group), about how you may be able to do so.


Robert Orr

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