James Rowland has led a very full life; from working on steam ships and as a licensed builder, to dancing professionally as a ball room exhibition dancer. Now living in Forster, the 88-year-old received physiotherapy appointments through Home Nursing Group (HNG) which helps him with his sometimes debilitating nerve pain.
If you’re trying to get hold of James Rowland, it’s best to get him just after lunch. With a full driver’s license and an independent state of mind, he’s often out and about going to appointments and picking up things from town. Luckily, he doesn’t mind a beer just after lunch and it’s the best time to contact him when he’s sitting down enjoying a cold one.
Originally from Sydney, Mr Rowland grew up swimming in the city’s harbour, before moving out to Villawood when the war began. “That was a culture shock. There were only six houses in Villawood in those days,” he chuckles. “I left school at 14. Dad came home on leave (from the war) and he knew someone at the Union Steamship Company, so I got an apprenticeship there as a ship joiner. I stayed there for two and half years and transferred my apprenticeship to a small builder at Regent’s Park building service homes. They were all built by hand in those days, using saws and chisels from a pile of wood; in the 70s I used to build 22 homes a year! I left there in ’52 when I came out of my apprenticeship. They were interesting times. I was a bit of a tearaway; I was a fabulous dancer and I lived the part.”
He was such a fabulous dancer that he started starring in exhibition dances every Friday and Saturday night. “I’ve got an ambition now I’d love to go dancing again, but the trouble is my body wouldn’t let me! I would always start with a jazz waltz, go into a fox trot and finish with a tango. I also did a jive and jitterbug exhibition. I was getting paid for it in my spare time and could earn more money in an hour’s exhibition dancing on Friday and Saturday night then I could earn all week.”
Marrying his wife Marcia when he was 24-years old, the couple went on to have two sons, four grandsons and Mr Rowland now has a great grandson, who is now the pride of his life. He and Marcia moved to Forster with Mr Rowland finding out about Home Nursing Group through wife Marcia’s care services. HNG offer Allied Health services which support clients to maintain everyday life activities, funded under Home Care Packages (HCP) and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). “I started HNG’s services about a year ago. I spoke with Caroline at HNG she is such a great lady,” he says. “My back went and she organised all of the treatments; I had a number of appointments with the physiotherapist in town. I’d love to meet Caroline in person one day!”
Mr Rowland’s lower back pain has transferred into nerve pain into his neck, head and eye which the physiotherapist sessions have helped with. “The physio has been essential. I have trouble eating and it’s affecting my throat as well. The pain through my right eye and forehead can sometimes be quite debilitating,” he says. “The physios massage up my shoulders and neck and they relax all my muscles and neck. HNG have been very good to me and Caroline has been fabulous.”