86-year-old Ernie Smith was born and raised on Lora Station in Bundara. It was here, where he would travel to school every day in a hooded buggy with his eight siblings and watch the station owner perform all farming jobs with a horse and carriage, that spurred his passion for building sulky’s and carriages.
After trying out various career paths, it was his love for the fine details and craftmanship required in restoring and building the carts that captivated him the most. Over the years, Ernie has restored many different sulky’s for different people.
One of his works has been sent to Germany for a client, and others are in museums in both Quirindi and Canberra.
Growing up amid World War II with a German father, Ernie has endured his fair share of hardships. His family had to change their last name to Smith to ensure they were not subject to discrimination, and his parents had to separate, leaving his mother with all the children to ensure their safety. However, this did not hinder his spirits it only made him more determined to succeed and overcome the adversity placed against him.
Ernie became a client of Home Nursing Group after he had lower back surgery in Sydney in 2009. He stayed for a prolonged amount of time for rehabilitation afterwards, however this wasn’t a comfortable or easy situation for him or his family.
Arrangements were made to transfer Ernie back home to Armidale, to the comfort of his home and Home Nursing Group were able to put services in place to ensure Ernie improved his overall wellness and regained movement. These services included personal care and help around the house.
Services to assist Ernie maintain his home are still in place. Ernie believes that being a part of Home Nursing Group has allowed him to keep his independence which is something he believes is very important, “It’s the fact that I can do my own washing and make my own food that I love. But also having the peace of mind that if something bad were to happen to me, I have a nurse checking up on me daily.” Ernie quite honestly states, “I know if I were to be put into a full-time home that my health would deteriorate dramatically. Occupation is the greatest therapy!”
Although Ernie enjoys his freedom and independence, he feels reassured that if his circumstances were to change, he has plans in place. He also appreciates the fact that he does not have to rely on his two daughters to look after him.
The Jacaranda Social Club is a social program that is organised by Home Nursing Group, and it offers a variety of activities designed to promote positive interaction and to meet clients social, physical and emotional needs. It has been a great way for Ernie to interact and socialise with other clients of Home Nursing Group.
As Ernie is a keen artist, he enjoys participating in the Creative Arts Program that the Jacaranda Social Club host. He is a very determined yet modest person, and when asked about his talents states, “You are only as good as your ability to try. Knowledge is grounded on the accuracy, aided by labour and sustained by perseverance. If you are not willing to get in and have a go, you will never succeed.”