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The Leckie’s great adventure began 56 years ago

When Brian Leckie and his wife Shirley, took their then six-year-old son David, to their GP, the doctor suggested they look into the activities on offer at David House, in Yarraville.

151122 AnnectoAGM 0026Fifty-one years later, Brian is a life member and David is still attending the centre four days a week.  “The days he is sick, it’s a battle to keep him home,” tells Brian.  Together, Brian and his wife Shirley became heavily involved in David House, with Brian joining the Committee of Management and serving as treasurer for eleven years.  “Parents were heavily involved in those days. Most families were single income, and Shirley was heavily involved in the Mothers Participation Group for many years.  With the shift to double income families, the parent involvement at the centre has reduced over the past fifty years, but the parent commitment to the happiness of their children has strengthened.  “It was different back then, we were definitely a little community and the friendships that were made between the parents, have lasted a life time.  We used to have monthly parent meetings where we all shared information.  There is a lot more information about these days, back then we had to find it all ourselves,” explains Brian.

A practicing accountant, Brian also served on the annecto board for four years and has always been impressed with how annecto’s people and philosophies have shaped the annecto David House of today. “We were struggling to keep up with the requirements of reporting and government as a committee.  I was on the team of administration when annecto came on board, and I’ve always been impressed with the passion and experience of annecto’s people,” explains Brian.

An annual family trip that saw Brian, Shirley and David take their caravan and drive north to warmer areas of Australia, to escape Melbourne’s winter, has continued for 19 years.  This year Brian, now 83 years old and David, 56 years old, took four months to camp at caravan parks from Hervey Bay, the Sunshine Coast, Kingscliff, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Nelson Bay, Merimbula, Lakes Entrance and Batesman Bay. 

“We stopped off at Lightning Ridge on this trip and went to see the opal mine site, Chambers of the Black Hand.  It was fascinating; we both (David and Brian) loved it.”  The mine is only 63 feet underground, but has a chamber lined with sandstone sculptures, a shop where you could buy opal jewellery, couches you could sit on and have a cup of tea, and other interesting bits and pieces.

Touring around Australia was always a dream of Brian's. “When I retired from work in 1996, Shirley, David and I drove around Australia for a year.  In fact we did it twice it was so much fun,” remembers Brian.  As Brian ages, he is actively planning for what David’s life will be like, after he passes.  “The land across the road (from their home) is being developed and I’m planning on setting David up in one of the town houses they build on the land.  David can cook for himself now and he knows this area so well, and he is close to friends at David House.” 

Brian has two other adult children living within half an hour of Melbourne. One of them has built a room for David in his home at Little River, the other is more than happy to help out and check in with David as he needs it. Brian feels David’s strong connection to the local community, his social life at David House and his love of taking long walks and train rides around the Western suburbs of Melbourne, are what will keep David connected and interested, as he ages himself.  David is well-known around the local community with many shop owners and businesses engaging with him on his long walks around the neighbourhood. “He inherited his mother’s smile, and wears it constantly.  I’ve never known him to have a bad day, and even though he has a speech disability, he seems to be able to make himself understood.”

David is a keen photographer, loves gardening and carpentry and participates in a dance class at the local Footscray Arts Centre on Fridays.  “We both love movies and will go and see one most weeks at the Sun Theatre in Yarraville,” says Brian. 

When asked about the NDIS, Brian confesses it’s not really on his radar, and knows little about it. “If it helps those in need then I am all for it,” he adds.

A fifty year member of the Williamstown Masonic Lodge, Brian is about to receive an award for fifty years of masonic service.  He looks forward to the monthly meetings, occasional dinners and get-togethers with people he has been friends with for a long time.  

After he tells me he is 83 years old, and I remark on his youthful demeanour and appearance, Brian tells me he puts it down to “20 percent lifestyle and 80 percent genes!”  

Read about David and his involvement in the Boat Building Crew at annecto David House, and their latest project - building a canoe. 

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