Barb’s retirement is no back seat ride

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
When Barbara Fleay gets a rare five minutes to herself, Darcy and Coco are there to keep her company.
Camera IconWhen Barbara Fleay gets a rare five minutes to herself, Darcy and Coco are there to keep her company. Credit: South Western Times, Callum Hunter

Society would have you believe that retirement is peaceful, relaxing and leisurely... unless you are Barbara Fleay and Seniors Recreation Day is coming up.

Barbara grew up in Brunswick and has spent the majority of her life bouncing between there and Bunbury, moving between the towns for school, work and family.

“My father was a railway man and everyone was friends, it was a great place to grow up,” she said.

“My son’s still living there actually.”

With a background in retail and customer service, she is perhaps one of the most community-minded residents in the South West and this year celebrated her 68th year as a Girl Guide.

Her near seven-decade involvement with the Guides was what Barbara identified as the starting point of her community involvement.

“If you were a Girl Guide, you sort of got involved in things right away with the CWA, Red Cross people, Brunswick Show etc.,” she said.

“You go back so far and there was no such thing as telephones like there is today so the Guides would go on duty around the grounds.

“If you found little children lost you’d bring them back to the CWA’s lost children tent and then run a message over to where the mic was and help look after the kids and just help out.”

At 13 Barbara began teaching Sunday School at her church before playing the organ for mass the year after.

Fast forward 60 years and Barbara has continued supporting the community, helping the CWA every Tuesday morning, calling bingo for seniors every second Tuesday, volunteering with the Bunbury Soup Van and Bunbury Hospital kiosk on Wednesdays — just to name a few.

“On Thursdays if I can do something else for someone else or any of those groups I will,” she said.

“Sundays I go to church and try to have time with my family because I only have a few left down here, the rest have gone to Kalgoorlie.

“And when I’ve got some spare time I love knitting.”

Spare time is even harder for Barbara to come by at the moment as she and the rest of the Seniors’ Recreation Council gear up for the LiveLighter Seniors Recreation Day on September 13.

“I start working on that about May,” she said.

The Seniors Recreation Day is an event for people over the age of 45 to explore and discover the range of clubs and services available to them in the South West.

“I put myself in the boat of ‘I want to know things, but I won’t always go and ask because I’m frightened of asking a stupid question’,” Barbara said.

“That’s why these people are giving us the opportunity, to ask things in a public space.”

Last year’s event drew more than 1000 people through the doors of the South West Italian Club to explore more than 60 specialty stalls, a number Barbara did not actually plan on.

“People kept ringing me up and I kept squeezing them in,” she said.

Once the recreation day is done and dusted for this year, Barbara hopes to get back into her weekly routine of helping Bunbury’s community services and relief providers before settling down in the evening for a quiet knitting session, kept company by her two dogs Darcy and Coco.

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