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Power of one

Monday, 29th December, 2014

Flo Power ‑ a long-serving volunteer at Aruma Lodge - enjoys a well-earned cup of tea. PICTURE: Michael Murphy Flo Power ‑ a long-serving volunteer at Aruma Lodge - enjoys a well-earned cup of tea. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

By Michael Murphy

Flo Power knows what it is like to work. She pulled 12-hour shifts at a local dairy when she was 14, and now 79 years later, she still manages two days a week as a volunteer, visiting the “oldies” at Aruma Lodge.

The 93-year-old is Aruma’s oldest volunteer, and apart from a six-month lay-off this year because of crook hip, she has volunteered at the aged care home continuously for the past 34 years.

Flo was born and bred in Broken Hill. Her father was a fencer and tank sinker for properties owned by Sir Sidney Kidman. The family had a short stint at Fowler’s Gap before they took over a pub on the road to Tibooburra, about 133 miles from Broken Hill, when Flo was six.

“It’s not on the map anymore,” Flo said. “Iduna ... Iduna Park it was called. It had a gum tree in the front and a pepper tree out the back ... and that was the park.”

When Flo was 13, the family moved back to Broken Hill where she finished out the year at school, and then began work. Flo ended up at Shutt’s Dairy, working from 7am to 7pm, but she wasn’t milking the cows.

“I was in the house, thank God. I was there all day doing odds and ends and I had a big wage ... it was 15 shillings a week.

“I was on good money.

“I worked there quite a few years and then I was a waitress at the Southern Cross (Hotel) ... that was three pound ... that was a big, big wage.”

“It was just after that I got married when I was 18 - that’s what silly girls did in those days.”

Flo married Mick Power who worked on the North Mine and they had three girls, who are all grown up and married, and of course grand children and great grand children have followed. She’s got a long line of photos in her loungeroom to prove it.

Mick died about 25 years ago, so Flo started to work for home care to keep herself busy.

“When I got too old for that ... well, they said I was too old ... I started down at Aruma Lodge volunteering,” Flo said.

It all began when one of her friends wanted to go down there and play bingo but couldn’t manage the trip, so Flo offered to drive her.

Organisers of the competition asked Flo to help with the cards. Then Flo was asked if she would go down to Aruma and help with morning teas, and then someone popped the question about craft. Flo likes her craft.

“Even after I broke my hip I kept doing craft. They would send it up and I would do it and send it back again.”

It was almost a full-time passion for Flo, helping out at Aruma, but her hip injury did slow her down a bit, just a bit.

“I have started going back again two mornings a week to help out a bit.

“I’m getting too old, I can’t do much, but every little bit helps with those sort of things.

She was on the injury list for about six months, but the staff at Aruma were keen to get her back into form.

“They kept saying come down, come down, and I thought I would only be in the road.

“And then I thought I can carry a cup of tea around or something like that.

“I will never be able to do the kitchen like I used to all the time, but I can still go down and help a little bit.

“It’s like a big family down there it is lovely.

“The staff are very good and the majority of the residents they just take you as one of their own.

“You go and put your hands on them and go how are you today and all the rest of it, and they think it is lovely.

“And I like to do it.

“I think I would go mad if I didn’t sort of do something.”

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