Willoughby Retirement Community Association (WRCA) is a registered charity and a tax-deductible gift recipient located in Chatswood, New South Wales. All donations are ploughed back into WRCA’s Self-Care Village and Aged Care Hostel.
Present and past residents, families and local organisations have supported WRCA’s charitable aims. Their gifts, no matter how small, combine to contribute to the wellbeing of WRCA residents and the local Willoughby/Chatswood retirement and aged community.
Recent generous donations have been received from Lenity Australia Limited, formerly Chatswood Community Care Association Limited (CCCA).
In 1983, WRCA was registered as a Charity for the purpose of managing health and aged care services to local retired residents. In 1991, WRCA opened Willoughby Hostel, adding low level aged care services to its existing retirement village, Willoughby Village.
Similarly, just down the road from WRCA’s Willoughby Village & Hostel, CCCA provided high level nursing care to local Willoughby residents. In 1992, CCCA opened Chatswood Community Nursing Home on the site previously occupied since 1927 by the local district Hospital bounded by Victoria Avenue and Hercules Street in Chatswood CBD.
In 2014, after 20 years of providing high level aged care in Chatswood, CCCA resolved to close its nursing home. CCCA further resolved to transfer the site for redevelopment into a multi-storey residential and commercial complex and to change its name to Lenity Australia which now selects international charitable works in Asia and the Pacific, including Australia, for Lenity to financially support such as the Zero Child Cancer Project to eliminate childhood cancer and a Nursing Masters training program for Tongan nurses.
Lenity’s various projects are funded by the proceeds of CCCA’s sale of the Chatswood Community Nursing Home site which comprised the heritage listed home and surrounding land known as Ventongymps, originally owned by a local identity, Dr Olver.
Born in Cornwall, England in 1849, William Reath Olver, emigrated as a young man to Australia; married in 1888 Minnie Folkes (born in Bathurst, NSW on 17 August 1868); bought property and businesses in Dubbo; and later settled in Chatswood with their 5 children (2 sons and 3 daughters born 1889, 1890, 1892, 1893 and 1899).
The Story of Ventongymps
In 1892, at age 24, William Olver’s wife, Minnie, purchased a block of land for £80 (80 pounds) at the back of a large home called “Quarry Lodge” fronting Hercules Street, Chatswood.
In 1900, William Olver became a doctor at age 51!
After graduating from Sydney University with his degree conferred by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York on 1 June 1901 on their visit to Sydney, in 1904, Dr Olver purchased Quarry Lodge for £1,175 (pounds). He extended the Lodge as a family home from which he provided medical services and which he renamed Ventongymps after a hamlet in Cornwall (meaning spring or fountain at a level place).
“Many years ago, Ventongimps was called Fenton Gumpus and was a busy place with horses and carts. It is now a picturesque, quiet country village. Bridge House which was once the village shop. It is about two hundred years old. Over the road is Ventongimps Mill. Part of it is in ruins, but most of it is still in good condition. In Ventongimps there is a spring that never stops. Water in Bridge House is fed from the spring. The water is very fresh. Not many people live now in Ventongimps but they are all very friendly and it is a very pleasant place to live with a very warm atmosphere. Most of the residents have their own transport due to the fact that there is no public transport available in the vicinity.”
Courtesy Goonhavern Cornwall “cornish community spirit in action”
In March 1906, Dr Olver’s wife, Minnie, purchased a second block of land for £100 (100 pounds) next to their Ventongymps house in Chatswood.
Minnie’s land purchases were for their eldest son born in 1890, Harold Ivan Reath Olver, who was then 16 years old and working on the family farm in Dubbo. Eight years later Harold, however, decided to join the 2nd Australian Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron in World War I, enlisting on 21 November 1914.
“The War to end War”, (sometimes called “the war to end all wars} was a term for the First World War of1914-1918. Originally idealistic, it is now used mainly sardonically. Politicians expected WW1 to last until Christmas of 1914. They had no idea that it was going to last four years.
A Tale of Remembrance
As ANZAC Day on 25 April each year and Remembrance Day, the 11th of the 11th of the 11th, draws near, we at WRCA are reminded of the toll that war had on the family of this early founder of medical and health services in Chatswood, Dr Olver and his wife Minnie. Their eldest son, Harold enlisted in the 2nd Australian Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron. This Light Horse Brigade first saw action while serving in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the Dardanelles Campaign in the Battle of Gallipoli. After being withdrawn to Egypt in February 1916 they served in the ANZAC Mounted Division from March 1916 as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign until the end of the war.
Harold is referred to in Australian Military History records as:
“”Embarked HMAT A29 Suevic on 21 December 1914 from Sydney. CofE, Single. NOK – Mother Father Ventnor, Gymps, Chatswood”.
Eight months after eldest son Harold had enlisted, Minnie died tragically at age 46.
The Dubbo local newspaper reported Minnie’s death:
Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (NSW: 1894 – 1954)
Friday 30 July 1915 edition page 4
Mrs. Oliver [sic], wife of Dr. Oliver, of Sydney, late of Dubbo, committed suicide on Saturday last by hanging herself in her own room. Deceased had been very despondent owing to ill health.
A year after his mother Minnie’s death, Harold was killed in action in Egypt in August 1916 at age 25.
His death was reported in Australian Military History records as:
2nd Australian Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron. Age at embarkation 24. Former station overseer. Mention in Despatches Awarded, and promulgated, ‘London Gazette’, Supplement, No. 29845 (1 December 1916); ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 62 (19 April 1917).
Buried at Kantara War Memorial Cemetery (Row B, Grave No. 37), Egypt.
Dr Olver continued to devote his life to the health and well-being of the Chatswood/Willoughby community for the next 7 years until his death at the age of 74 in 1923.
The Sydney Morning Herald at the time also described the eminent Dr Olver as an extensive reader and collector of artworks and orchids.
DEATH OF DR. OLVER.
The career of Dr. William Reath Olver, who died at his home at Chatswood on Wednesday morning, affords a striking illustration of the power of an honourable ambition and its fulfilment as the fruit of unwavering determination.
Dr. Olver was born in Cornwall in 1849. His parents came to Australia when he was quite young, and he spent some time at Newington College. His desire to qualify for the medical profession was thwarted through force of circumstances, as he was compelled to leave school and embark upon business life at an early age.
In his business career he was most successful, but the call of the medical profession was still strong, and at the ripe age of 46 he commenced study, and obtained the degree of M.B.,Ch.M, five years later at Sydney University. Then he went to Europe, and spent several more years there, studying in the leading hospitals.
Taking up his practice in Chatswood, he has followed it for the past 18 years until his death at the age of 74. In a busy life he found time for extensive reading and for the collection of orchids and Australian works of art. He leaves a son (Dr. L. R. Olver) and three daughters (Mrs. Frank Read, of Roseville, Mrs. Harold Forbes, of Pymble, and Miss Marjorie Olver).
The funeral will leave Venton Gymps, Victoria-avenue, Chatswood, at 2 o’clock this afternoon for St. John’s Church of England Cemetery, Gordon.
In 1962, Dr Olver’s 4 children – Alice Constance (born 1889) who married Frank Read of Roseville; Ilma Dorothy (born 1892) who married Harold Forbes of Pymble; Marjory Ethel (born 1893) who married James Powell Brown of Wahroonga in 1935; and Lloyd Reath (born 1899), who married Kathleen Meek and graduated in the 1920’s to become an eminent a doctor practising in London during WWII and later in Canberra – all, as beneficiaries under Dr Olver’s Will, consented to formally grant the family home of Ventongymps to continue as the district hospital (first opened in 1927) and later nursing home (in 1990) in order to continue their father’s vision for the local community.
As the children of the original owner, Dr William Olver, gave their family home, Ventongymps in Victoria Avenue Chatswood to the local community to serve as a hospital which later became Chatswood Community Nursing Home, Lenity is “paying it forward” by continuing this goodwill gesture of the family, by supporting WRCA through financial donations.
Today, Ventongymps is a heritage listed building, the shell of which remains situated in Victoria Avenue Chatswood on the same site that was sold for over $20million by CCCA for re-development as a commercial site. Today, Lenity assists to continue the good works of Dr Olver, CCCA and WRCA.
Donations from Lenity to WRCA assist WRCA to continue the good works of the Late Dr Olver and his descendants over the last 130 years with regard to local health and aged care services in the City of Willoughby.
In keeping with the preservation of the traditional values of Dr Olver’s family and his heritage home Ventongymps, which, with Willoughby Council’s support, still stands as a monument to this day, Willoughby Retirement Community Association is pleased to acknowledge Lenity’s ongoing financial assistance towards preserving WRCA’s dedicated provision of quality aged care and accommodation services to the local Willoughby community.
Read more about Lenity and its forebears here.
Lenity’s donations to WRCA to date have been:
- December 2016 – New furnishings in WRCA’s Hostel
- February 2017 – New furnishings for WRCA’s communal lounge [known as The Grace Room after being originally furnished in the 1970’s by donation from Grace Bros (now Myer)]
- July 2018 – Solar panel project on the roof of WRCA’s Hostel and Tower building
|Donor Honour Roll|
|GRACE BROS (now Myer)||Furniture and fittings (Grace Room Lounge)|
|EDITH AGNEW||Financial bequest (Banksia Room improvement)|
|ISABEL BELL & FAMILY||Lounges for Hostel foyer & linen for Hostel units|
|LOUELLA DADZANOVS||Pianola, air-conditioning for Hostel dining room, water purifier|
|MADELINE GLENNAN||Sale of donated paintings (Dinnerware Hostel)|
|TAMARA GRAY||Kawai Piano|
|JOAN MILLER||Rocking chair for Self-Care foyer|
|BUD PODPERA||Whole of Estate (Linen for Hostel units & Banksia Room improvement)|
|MOLLY STAHLHUT||Centre pieces for Hostel dining room tables & Village lawn birdbath|
|JOAN TRAHAR||Linen for Hostel units & dining room|
|ETHEL WARNER||Financial bequest (Banksia Room improvement)|
|BETTY WHITMAN & FAMILY||Long leather lounge & buffet Grace Room|
|WILLOUGHBY CITY COUNCIL||Community Grants for Village flag pole, Residents’ computer and major donor towards Hostel car & Hostel Activities Area air-conditioning|
|JESSIE WRIGHT||Air-conditioning for Hostel office|
|WRIGHT, RUSSELL-FRENCH, KEARNS, MACHIN, GUY, STEEL, DONAHOO, EATHER, TAYLOR, KINGSFORD-SMITH, JACKSON, WATT, SCHRODER, DAVIES, DR THOMAS, KELDIE, RAMZY, ANDREWS, DR PERETZ, CARTER, BERNIE, CALDWELL||Special thanks to these families for donations towards our ‘people mover’|
|MACHIN, DONAHOO, KINGSFORD-SMITH, GUY, STEEL, SHEEHAN, LINCEY, DADZANOVS, JONES, SCIFLEET, FINDLAY, PIGOTT||Special thanks to these families for donations towards our Hostel Activities Area air-conditioning|
|HAROLD & JUNE KEARNS||Financial donation (Banksia Room improvement)|
|LEN & DOT GUY||Financial donation (Banksia Room improvement)|
|ALEC WILKINS||One fifth of Estate (Tower courtyard refurbishment)|
|LENITY AUSTRALIA LIMITED (formerly CHATSWOOD COMMUNITY NURSING HOME)||Financial donation for refurbishment of Hostel, Grace Room and gardens, solar panel rooftop project|
|STEVEN BOOKER||Financial donation (Hostel improvement)|