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Harold Williams Home opened

Monday, 18th April, 2011

HONOUR: Pauline and Darryl Williams stand between the plaque honouring the late Harold Williams. HONOUR: Pauline and Darryl Williams stand between the plaque honouring the late Harold Williams.

By Kurtis Eichler

It's been two years and $10.5 million in the making, but the idea for Harold Williams Home began almost 40 years ago with a vision, according to Southern Cross Care chairman Bob Johnson.

Mr Johnson told about 100 invited guests at the official opening of the aged care home on Saturday that, in 1974, four local members of the Knights of the Southern Cross "had a dream".

"These men, John Defranceschi, Kevin Quinn, Kevin Doyle, Austin Garoway and of course Harold Williams, were people that had the vision to do something for seniors," he said.

"They had a long way to go, and a lot of battles to fight."

Since then Southern Cross Care has gone on to become the dominant provider of aged care accommodation in the city, investing millions on building and maintaining its homes.

Comparing them to Broken Hill's charitable mining company directors of the early 1900s, Mr Johnson said the Knights weren't taking money out of the community but putting "the riches back in."

He said the new building looked "magnificent" and that a lot of effort had gone into creating what was being described as "five star accommodation."

"We're moving forward, we're giving the best we can to the seniors of Broken Hill."

The home, which was part-funded with a zero interest loan from the federal government, replaces the War Veterans' Hostel and accommodates 40 low- and high-care residents.

Harold Williams' son Darryl, who attended the opening with his wife Pauline, described the facility as "remarkable".

He said his father devoted much of time to local charities which made him worthy of having the home named in his honour.

SCC national chairman Ray Groom recognised the work of Harold Williams, who died in 2006, and that of the volunteers and carers of the facility he described as being like a five star hotel.

"And there's a dentist chair. I've not seen that in an aged care facility," said Mr Groom, a former Tasmanian premier and Melbourne player.

Southern Cross Care CEO Allan Carter told the crowd it was a particularly important day in the history of Southern Cross Care, and deputy chairman Pat Victory spoke on how "very very proud" he was of the new home.

"Just five years and we've opened two magnificent facilities. This is a very, very important occasion."

Guests were later invited on a guided tour of the home which features four dining rooms and large entertainment and outdoor areas.

Local State MP John Williams was amazed at the building designed by talented architect Frank Lloyd.

"This starts to fill a bit of a gap," Mr Williams said.

He said the fact SCC was willing to go into debt to build the facility showed the Christian charity was generous.

"We're blessed to have an organisation such as Southern Cross Care."

The MP said his next objective was to move the elderly people confined to the local hospital into an aged care facility.

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