Memoirs of the old Farrer: An interview with Barry Davis

Barry Davis was the first maintenance officer of Farrer Village and is now a proud Goodwin resident at Monash. With the village undergoing renovation, Activities Coordinator, Patricia Jefcoate, caught up with Barry to relive nostalgic memories and stories of the old Farrer.

Your association with Goodwin goes back a long way. Take us through your journey.

I joined Goodwin in 1987 as a maintenance officer. That was my official title, but I was bit of everything. I had my own shed that was my workshop. If something came apart or broke, I fixed it. I would also do repairs and installation.

I had a great relationship with residents. They loved me and I loved them. They never had to worry about anything when I was there. Back then, Goodwin used to participate in a seniors’ arts and crafts competition. They used to bring all their stuff to me. I made them models of service stations, fire stations, merry-go-rounds, you name it. Whatever the problem, they would bring it to Barry, and he would fix it for them.

One day, I remember, there was a state-wide nurses’ strike and they didn’t turn up. I was the only one left and I had to make the beds! I did it all without a frown on my face. It made me happy to see the residents happy.

I worked at Goodwin for 18 years. It was the best time of my life. A heart attack put me out which is why I had to retire prematurely. If I was able to, I would still be working at Goodwin.

18 years is a long time. How did you see the Farrer Village evolve over the years?

When I joined, Farrer was still a relatively new village. There were a lot of new technologies and systems that we introduced that were almost unheard of in those days, such as the vital call buttons. I was the one who installed them at Farrer. I had to learn all about their intricate mechanics and make sure they are functioning properly.

Back in those days, Goodwin had just started its collaboration with government and not-for-profit agencies to help ex-offenders and unemployed youth integrate into the workforce. We offered them community work opportunities where they would learn new skills. Most of these people were sent to me. When they came, they knew nothing, and by the time they left, I trained them to do everything! One of them even got a certificate of appreciation from the government for his fantastic turnaround during his time with us.

The company back then was much smaller and we were a closely-knit unit. I used to directly report to the main boss. I remember once I did a great job on fixing the TV systems, and he called me into his office and gave me a huge bonus for all the money I had saved the company. I can never forget that day!

From a Goodwin staff to a Goodwin resident…tell us about the transition.

My wife, Judy, and I had a family home in Duffy. Age was catching up and I was having a tough time maintaining the yard. Besides, I had other more important things to do. One day, I came to Monash to see one of my old mates. Over there, I met the Goodwin sales team whom I knew. They convinced me that we should move in here and the rest is history. We sold our house right before Christmas in 2013. It was a good decision to move, and we’re really enjoying living here.

We like to keep ourselves busy. I still make crafts out of whatever I can get my hands on. I’m also a miniature car collector. Judy is professionally-trained in doll making, and she likes to spend her free time doing that.

What will you miss the most about the old Farrer Village?

I have some really fond memories of Farrer.

We had the best cook in the world in Margaret. I got special permission from the boss to do a weekly barbeque for the staff. The smell of the sizzling sausages and beer-battered fries and onions would attract the residents from a distance and they would come flocking in with their plates. Those were the days!

There was a very funny incident of two residents with wooden legs that I will never forget. They both liked sitting at this one table and used to race each other to sit there. Once, they had an argument and one kicked the other with his wooden leg. We heard a loud wooden thud. The lady poked her tongue out and said, “That didn’t hurt, that’s my wooden leg”. All the people roared!

I will miss everything about Farrer: the scenery, the shed, the people, the times I spent there. I was well loved. When I left, I had the biggest farewell an employee can imagine. They got together and raised money for me as a farewell gift, and it took me three years to spend it!


Barry at his workshop

Barry at his workshop

The day Barry had to make the beds!

The day Barry had to make the beds!