July will mark a record-breaking milestone for Lesley Wimbles, Resthaven Malvern aged care facility’s housekeeping services assistant.
The 78-year-old will be celebrating 45 years of service with Resthaven, making her the longest serving staff member in Resthaven’s 86 year history.
Still working three ‘tea shifts’ a week, Wimbles will be honoured at the annual Resthaven Staff Appreciation Awards on 8 July.
She has also been awarded status as an ‘unsung hero’ in the industry through the ACSA Recognition Program 2022.
Reflecting on her long career with Resthaven, Wimbles notes that her journey with Resthaven began rather serendipitously, as a favour to friends.
“My neighbour, Margaret, was friends with the Resthaven Malvern Matron, Barbara,” Wimbles recalls.
“My eldest had started school that year, and Margaret said to me, ‘We’re really desperate at Resthaven, you wouldn’t like a job would you?’
“And I said, ‘Oh gee, I’ll have to ask mum if she can watch the kids – as long as it’s only six weeks… well, we all know it ended up being longer that that!
“Oh my goodness, I still remember my first day,’ Wimbles continues.
“It was Saturday March 5, 1977, and I just walked in not knowing where to go, or knowing anyone.
“Luckily, someone sent me to the main kitchen, and they told me what to do… back then, the hot meal was already prepared, and it was a choice of two soups, then mains and salad, then sweets.
“Back then, there were 84 residents all in one big dining room. I remember thinking, how am I going to remember 84 names? But I obviously did.’
Wimbles has enjoyed several roles within the housekeeping department over the years, turning her hand to anything thrown her way.
“When the sweets cook was sick, I used to go in and do the sweets in the main kitchen. That was awesome, a lot of fun,” she says.
Wimbles also enjoyed a few stints as Housekeeper during periods of leave, working split shifts with an hour’s break in between.
“I would go and pick up my son from school at 3pm, and he’d sit in the staff room and do his homework until I finished at six,’ she says.
Wimbles has fond memories of residents who have left an impression on her over the years.
“I remember one lady, Molly,’ she recalls.
“We used to talk about cooking and recipes, and she gave me a nutloaf recipe.
“This was years ago, but I made that nutloaf just the other day. It’s in my recipe book as ‘Molly’s nutloaf’; she was a beautiful lady.
Wimbles also remembers many a Christmas, when residents used to come back late from viewing the Lobethal lights on the Resthaven bus.
“They used to go to the lights then come back for supper, which I would have ready for 10pm,” Lesley says.
Overall, it’s been the relationships and priceless memories made along the way that have kept Lesley in her role for such a long period of time.
“I think it gives you fulfillment that you’re helping someone; that’s probably the main thing for me.
“I feel like I’m doing something for the community.”
Retirement, according to Wimbles, is inevitable, but she laments the prospect of breaking ties with her second home at Resthaven.
“Unfortunately, with my body catching up with me, retirement is on the cards. I get sad when I think about retiring, but I know it has to come.
“By the end of this year I’m going to be 79!”
Resthaven sincerely thanks Lesley for her long and dedicated service to the Resthaven community.
Established in 1935, Resthaven is a South Australian not-for-profit aged care community service associated with the Uniting Church in Australia.
Services are provided throughout metropolitan Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, Murraylands, Riverland, Fleurieu Peninsula, lower Barossa region and the Limestone Coast of South Australia.