This is the story of the building of the Activity Therapy Centre, a Project of the Lions Club of Bundaberg.
It all started with Lion Alf Killer, a close friend of mine whose wife developed Multiple Sclerosis. At that time, as a serious asthmatic, I was involved in the ARAB’s (Asthma Research Assn. of Bundaberg) to find out why so many people were developing Asthma in the District and to try to find funds to build a heated pool for kids to exercise. Alf, at the same time, formed the Bundaberg Branch of the MS society to raise funds to find a cure for MS and to build a centre in Bundaberg as he needed to take his wife to the MS Centre in Brisbane regularly for physio in a heated pool at MS headquarters. He obtained a lease of a parcel of land in what is now known as Killer Street and the committee comprised of Alf as Chairman, Daughter Ann Hicks as Secretary with only 3 others on the committee. One was Alma Ing whose sister had MS also. At that stage, all donations and funds raised were being sent to MS Headquarters in Brisbane. Unfortunately, just as things were starting to evolve, Alf suddenly passed away and his dream of a therapy place in Bundaberg was put on hold. As one of his close friends, I suggested to the club that we take over and finish what Alf started and the Lions Club Directors at the time agreed unanimously. The club had had previous experience when it developed the Meals on Wheels kitchen in Quay Street. I then chaired the local MS committee and met with the Directors of MS in Brisbane outlining what the Lions had decided to do and they agreed for the Bundaberg Branch to cease sending the money to Brisbane and accumulate it for the project in Bundaberg. I then went to the Directors of Asthma in Brisbane (one of which was a Lion and a friend of mine) and they agreed to supply funding where they could.
The result of all that was the building would have 2 leases, half for MS and half for Asthma with a general office in the middle. They agreed to help with the funding if we were in trouble. After listening to all the requirements of both parties it was decided that MS side would be for all the physio equipment and the Asthma side would have the heated pool which the MS sufferers could also use, and with showers and toilets in each. There was not a heated pool in Bundaberg at that time. Lion Ron Glass, a licensed builder, then organised the plan drawing which was agreed to by all and gave an estimate of the material costing. Ron continued from then on to supervise all the work. This is when the Wide Bay Television station came to our help and televised photos of the land and what the Lions were trying to do as well as appealing for donations from businesses and the general public. Alma Ing ran many functions at her Hotel and private home. (The Lions dwarf hat act was used at lot of these.) Wide Bay Television continued to regularly support the project the whole way. As the lot was full of trees which needed to be removed, I approached Alex Walker and he donated a bulldozer and leveled it as much as he could. As I was at Massey Ferguson at the time with 2 other lions who were also managers there, we had a meeting with employees who willingly gave their time after work to pull up all the roots and load them into a truck also provided by Massey Ferguson.
A lion from the Bargara Club then gave us his time with his machine to smooth the surface ready for laying the foundation. I calculated at that stage that we had enough funds to start. I approached the Headmaster of TAFE to see if he would allow the apprentice bricklayers, under supervision, to lay the foundation blocks. He agreed and the work was very successful and the lads felt proud to have done something worthwhile for the community. A backhoe operator donated his time to dig the channels and Smiths concrete had filled them up ready. Members of the lions then completed the form work, under Lion Ron Glass’s supervision, and the floor was poured apart from a big hole in the Asthma side where we were to have the heated pool. Now came the big part. The actual structure. Members of the committee had personally contacted all the contractor gangs, service clubs and volunteers to let them know that the building was about to start. The club had been to meetings of Rotary and other Lions Clubs asking for help on the day, and the Bundaberg News Mail and Wide Bay Television were also a big support. We had organised the trestles, planks and cement mixers together with cement, sand and water in easy to use positions with wheelbarrows at the ready. A fork lift had been provided by Massey Ferguson to spread the blocks evenly around the perimeter. The brickie gangs were allocated a specific area when they arrived and the lions, other service club members and public volunteers, mixed the mud, manned the wheelbarrows, made sure the blocks were on the planks all the time, and kept the mud up to the brickies as they needed it.
The walls went up like magic as each gang was trying to show how good they were. Smoko was provided and Ron Manning’s pies were provided for lunch. At 4pm, a ute arrived with stubbies provided by Alma Ing. The pies and stubbies were provided at no cost. My memory is not clear, but I think all the walls were up in 2 weekends. The roof trusses and battens were completed in one weekend assisted by the moveable platforms also provided by Massey Ferguson. Morning tea, lunch and stubbies at the end were again provided as they were at every working bee. Next came the ceiling and soffits, made easier again with the help of the moving platform because the MS part of the building had 12 foot ceilings. The roof went up in a morning as there were so many plumbers volunteering on that day. The painters came another weekend to do the walls and ceilings, and the glaziers put in the windows. MF employees were there every Friday after work getting things ready for each weekend. Lion Fred May who was a monumental mason insisted that he and his staff do all the tiling in the swimming pool and that was a big task but they did a wonderful job. Then came the hard part, the internal finishing of moldings, light fittings etc. It took many weekends of ringing different tradespeople to come and help. I tried many pool heating places for a satisfactory roof type and eventually found one from the Gold Coast.
It was a huge project and we have so many people to thank for its success. It was completed within the funds that we had and debt free. I shall always remember the wonderful co-operation that we had from all the Bundaberg tradesmen in particular who gave their time and expertise to make it all happen. The project would not have been so successful without all the voluntary work which amounted to many thousands of hours. The final wonderful thing that happened was that the lions QLD Miss Personality Quest dinner and final judging was televised from the centre after it had been completed. I was only sorry I was unable to attend the official opening.
John Crossley OAM
ABOVE: (from the newspaper) The Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Dr. Edwards, addresses guests before officially opening the Bundaberg Activity Therapy Centre and hydro-therapy poof on Saturday. At left: Dr. Edwards unveils a commemorative plaque.
Six years community effort in fundraising and months of volunteer work building the Bundaberg Activity Therapy Centre and asthma hydro-therapy pool were rewarded on Saturday with the official opening of the facilities by the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Dr. Edwards.
The centre for multiple sclerosis patients was the idea of the late Alf Killer, who was treasurer of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland and a member of the Bundaberg Lions Club. The centre for multiple sclerosis patients was the idea of the late Alf Killer, who was treasurer of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland and a member of the Bundaberg Lions Club.
The centre became a club project in 1976.The Asthma Foundation was planning a hydrotherapy pool at the same time, so it was decided the two groups should work together. Dr. Edwards said that while society generally had been slow to provide facilities and caring environment for the handicapped service clubs had been leaders the field.
He said the project had involved Hinkler Lions, and Bundaberg Apex and Rotary Clubs in addition to the Bundaberg Lions.
The State Government had been pleased to assist by making available the two-hectare site for the Centre, which appropriately has its frontage on Killer Street, Dr. Edwards said. Bundaberg City Council recognised Alf Killer’s
contribution by naming the street after him when it was extended to provide access to the centre.
Dr. Edwards commended Bundaberg and district for financing the project, primarily through the Lions Miss Personality Quest. He said the project probably would make Lions clubs the biggest supporters of medical research in Queensland. The cost of the centre was contained because machinery had been loaned and work undertaken voluntarily. In all, about 13000 manhours went into the completion of the centre. A fete and public inspection co-incided with Saturday’s opening.
Newspaper 29th August 1980
Volunteers required for therapy centre.
Volunteer bricklayers and workmen will be needed at the site of the new Bundaberg Therapy Centre in Killer Street at the weekend. Foundations have been laid, and the concrete floor and indoor pool poured. Work at the weekend will make a start on the walls of the building.
The working bee will start at 7am on both tomorrow and Sunday, to work throughout the day as long as light and the number of people allow. The secretarytreasurer of the Bundaberg auxiliary of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland, Mrs. A. Hicks, said yesterday that as many people as possible were needed. Anyone who was not a bricklayer would work as a labourer, she said. People were free to come and go as they pleased and stay only as long as they could, but Mrs. Hicks asked that she be contacted (telephone 712751) by people who were willing to help.
The workforce could then be better organised, she said, and people would have something to do so their time would not be wasted. Mrs. Hicks said the volunteer response to earlier parts of the project had been very good. Work was ahead of schedule. It was hoped the building would be finished by October and the centre in operation well before Christmas. Mrs. Hicks said working bees would be needed over coming weekends when plumbers and painters would be called on.
The centre, for the Multiple Sclerosis, Society and the Asthma Foundation, would provide therapeutic facilities for people with any muscular disability able to benefit from physiotherapy. When completed, the centre would include a physiotherapy gym and heated pool for year-round therapy, and facilities for occupational therapy, and hydrotherapy, a reception area and covered drive. All building work would be undertaken by voluntary labour as no Government subsidy was available.
Newspaper 4th October 1980
VOLUNTEER ROOF JOB TODAY
More than 40 volunteer plumbers, carpenters and labourers today will put the roof on this $300,000 Bundaberg Activity Therapy Centre, at Norville. More than 500 people have assisted in building the centre – bricklayers, service club members, pre-vocational students from the T.A.F.E. College, and members of the general public.
Early days of construction