Mick & Fran Collins

Having lived in the Macarthur area since the seventies, Mick and his wife Fran had already built strong ties within the community. In 1975, Mick opened his panel beating and spray painting business in nearby Moorebank which became his pride and joy for the next 35 years. When the decision was made to sell the business back in 2009, the couple embarked on a new journey relocating to the NSW South Coast to enjoy a ‘sea-change’.

But it wasn’t long before they returned to the area seeking a more active and engaged community life. However when the maintenance of their lovely two storey home became too consuming, they started to look at their options. “We looked around to build a new home in new estates so we didn’t have to renovate, but we didn’t like the fact that there might be people at a different stages in life to us – leaving to go to work early, young families and plenty of noise, so I suggested we look into the retirement villages in the area. When I walked into the display home, I was completely overwhelmed, I just instantly felt like I was at home. It was not only the home, but also the people who were there having morning tea were just lovely. I actually called Mick from there and said ‘stop looking anywhere else, I’ve found where we are going to retire’.”

Mick still felt that he was too young to retire, but he didn’t want to commit to a full time work role, so Fran suggested he look for some local handyman work to keep him occupied. By chance, there was a position available within the village to provide maintenance services two days per week, which sounded absolutely perfect to Mick. Undertaking a variety of tasks including yard & home maintenance and general handyman work, Mick was pleasantly surprised by what else the role offered him. “Not only does this role allow me to utilise my skills and keeps me active, but it has been a real social outlet for me. I am really enjoying building friendships and helping to establish a sense of community amongst the residents”.

Mick has become a great asset to Wivenhoe in the short time he has been part of the team and the residents are appreciative of the service he is providing for the upkeep of their homes. Fran comments, “it has been interesting to watch as some of the quieter men in the village, who usually keep to themselves, come out of their shells and offering assistance to help out with whatever Mick is working on if he needs it. They all feed off one another with ideas and are obviously enjoying the social interaction”. In fact, the men of Wivenhoe Village have just hosted their first social ‘blokes’ event – a BBQ and drinks for the third State of Origin. Despite the Blues losing the match, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the beers, bonding, and of course the banter, prompting the event to be declared an annual BBQ in the social calendar.

“Moving into the village and then Mick taking on the maintenance role have been such positive experiences for us both, we have found a wonderful life balance which allows us to retain our independence whilst remaining active within a growing community”.