Helping Charles stay in the Chermside community he loves

Looking out his window over Chermside shopping centre, Charles can hardly believe how much Chermside has changed over the years.

He still recalls the day the iconic ‘Island shop’ (now known as Westfield Chermside) was first opened by the Premier. “Back then, Chermside was the end of the road. The shopping centre was built in 1957 and was described as an island of retailing in a sea of parking. Everyone from all over Brisbane came to see this new concept of the island shops. That marked Chermside’s change of being the outer limits of the northside.”

Born in 1944 and the youngest of four children, Charles grew up in Mermaid Street Chermside. These days, his old family home has been replaced by a block of 18 units. “I have a bit of a lump in my throat when I see it now” he says.

Charles has many fond memories of his childhood, remembering how different it was at school in the 50s. “Uniforms and even shoes weren’t compulsory to wear to school back in those days.”

“When I left high school, I mentioned the possibility of going to university, and my father glared at me. He said I’d have to get off by backside and work. So, I got a job with the Department of Public Works doing a cadetship.”

While working, Charles studied at night for a diploma in Quantity Surveying at the Central Technical College (what is now QUT Gardens Point) and graduated in 1967.

“After a couple of years I got itchy feet, I was still single, so I headed off south seeking fame and fortune.”

When reflecting on the highlights of his career Charles talks about being a part of the construction team who built the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre in Brisbane and Parliament House in Canberra. “Some might say there’s not much difference between the two projects” he laughs.

For the last ten years since he retired, Charles has been back in Chermside where his life began.

These days, Charles stays active by doing a workout at Burnie Brae’s Healthy Connections gym 1-2 times a week. “It’s important to me because the programs are designed for older people to keep them active – not tossing around 200kg barbells. It’s kept me active and mobile - I would recommend it to anyone.”

“When I first started at Burnie Brae’s Healthy Connections I used to walk up, that was my morning exercise. Now I get Burnie Brae transport to and from the gym because it’s physically impossible for me to get there otherwise.”

Other Burnie Brae support services are also provided to Charles to empower him to live independently at home, which is important to him. Charles receives domestic help to assist with his grocery shopping every week, and fortnightly house cleaning.

“For me, there’s nothing exciting about being in an aged care facility – it would be a last resort. But as you get older, the things you could do 10 or 20 years ago you can’t do so well anymore. Burnie Brae has become a very useful part of my life, to help me stay living in my own home.”

Charles' childhood home in Mermaid Street, Chermside

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