CatholicCare Home Care client Douglas Baker sits comfortably in his armchair, flooded in the bright morning sunshine. It’s his sun-kissed glow and bright blue eyes that immediately catches you, and he looks as if he’s recently returned from a blissful holiday in Greece.
An absolute delight to chat with, Douglas has an upbeat personality. Despite difficulty with his short-term memory, he has no trouble recounting his adventurous life of opportunity and fame. Allow Douglas to take you to the 1930s, born in the Canary Islands and moving to Alexandria, Egypt when he was just a toddler. His father, Santley Baker, relocated the family through work, providing an adventurous life for the young family.
In 1939, the announcement of the Second World War came. The news meant that Douglas, his Mum and three sisters must head back to the United Kingdom, where they based themselves in Wales. We ask Douglas what he recalls of those times. He was eleven years of age, such a young boy and faced with the fierceness of war. His memories of German bombers overhead haunt him as he and his peers prayed that the weapons would never land on their school grounds. It is sad to think that the young Baker siblings couldn’t rely on the comfort of their parents through these tough times, as they had both returned to Egypt, leaving the children in boarding school and relying on the support of school friends’ families during end of term holidays, with no way of reuniting with their children until the war was over many years later.
“Cooking with Peter is a highlight, as we talk, share stories and a laugh”- Douglas
Douglas skips forward to a remarkable period in his life, presenting several mint condition newspaper clippings that report the success of his career in the position of fullback for no less than the British Lions and their tour to South Africa in September 1955—the decade also known to long standing Rugby Union fans as the ‘glittering decade of the fifties’.
Later, when Douglas was in his thirties and living in England, an invitation arrives in the post addressed from the prestigious school Cranbrook in Rose Bay, NSW, offering him a sports teaching role focused on coaching the school’s rugby team. Without hesitation, Douglas boarded the ship SS Iberia in 1962 from England. Upon arrival at port Circular Quay, the press greeted him, keen to meet and interview the British Lions’ legend.
Today, CatholicCare counts themselves as fortunate to be providing care for Douglas through government funded Home Care Services. It seems feelings are mutual, with Mrs Jan Baker relieved to now share the caring duties of her partner in life of 47 years. After major surgery in his left leg several years ago, post-surgery complications continue to cause a range of problems. These are areas in which Jan leaves nothing to chance, immediately seeking advice. The care that Jan provides Douglas is remarkable, and she admits, that it can really take its toll if you don’t seek help. Their Level 4 Home Care Package takes the pressure off Jan in managing Douglas’ acute mobility issues. Thanks to CatholicCare’s home care visits, Jan, an academic, can now dedicate her newly found and much needed time to her profession.
“It is wonderful to have the cooking, shopping, cleaning, and some of Douglas’ outings all taken care of by our CatholicCare Support Worker. Peter is so gentle and friendly, and he really seems to enjoy spending time with Douglas, taking extra care to ask him about his life as a younger man; his career, interests, and hobbies,” says Jan Baker.