Friendships bloom from long-standing partnership

Volunteer Craig Johns with Braemar Village resident Brian Morcombe.
Volunteer Craig Johns with Braemar Village resident Brian Morcombe.

In the 17 years since Willagee’s Braemar Village and Bicton’s Braemar Lodge paired up with Melville Cares Community Visitors Scheme, volunteers have regularly visited residents at the facility.

For Coolbellup resident Craig Johns it’s been the beginning of an unlikely but rewarding friendship with 95-year-old Brian Morcombe, who is a resident at Braemar Village.

Mr Johns first became involved with Melville Cares Community Visitors Scheme when he retired in 2009 and became chess buddies with Mr Morcombe earlier this year.

‘Every Wednesday fortnight I visit Brian and we play a solid three hours of chess,’ he said.

‘Brian is a genuine chess king. A couple of weeks ago I beat him for the first time in quite a while, but I think that’s only because he lets me win sometimes so I don’t become disillusioned.’

For Mr Johns, the benefits of being a volunteer with Melville Cares are clear.

‘As retirees, our time is our own and we volunteer because we get a great deal out of it ourselves,’ he said.

‘In my experience, older people remain very mentally alert and they want conversation and to be able to discuss the footy and politics.

‘The residents I’ve visited over the years are warm, funny, lovely people.’

Braemar Presbyterian Care chief executive Glenn Muskett said the partnership between Melville Cares and Braemar had proven beneficial for the facility’s residents.

‘Since Braemar paired with Melville Cares, we have found having access to this wonderful group of volunteers for companionship has been enormously positive for our residents,’ he said.