The train driver - Blog | Keyton

The volunteer train driver

Friday, 15 September 2017

After retiring young and sadly losing his wife, Ken Lilley finds solace in travelling, socialising, and driving a tourist train in the Roma Street Parklands.

Keperra Sanctuary resident Ken Lilley values time over money, which is why he chose to retire at only 53. Since then, Ken’s kept busy with volunteer roles, photography and travel. After sadly losing his wife, Ken says he’s glad he stayed at Keperra, where the sense of community and support is high. We spoke to Ken about retiring young and life as a volunteer train driver.

Time is worth more than money 

Before I retired, I was an accountant. That was a long time ago, in 1997. I decided to retire at the age of 53 because I wanted to have more time, as opposed to extra money. There's no point working until you can't do anything at all. Everyone I know who's retired says they have so many jobs to do they don't know how they'd manage full-time work anyway. 

Variety in volunteering 

Since I retired, I've been doing a few interesting volunteer jobs. One is at the Wesley Hospital, working in the research area. I’m responsible for keeping their database of samples from surgical operations up to date. It’s very interesting. I go in one morning a week and find out what other jobs they have for me. 

The other volunteer job I've got is driving the train at the Roma Street Parklands. I signed up as a train driver after doing a training course. It's a real train and a lot like the train set that every bloke wishes he had. It pulls 3 or 4 carriages and holds 20 adults or more with children. It runs around the road inside the parklands, so I need to take care as we share the path with pedestrians. 

Finding solace in travel and community 

I moved to Keperra Sanctuary in June 2010 with my wife Jeanette. She was very ill at that time, and we knew we had to move somewhere. Of all the options we had, this seemed like the best of them. Unfortunately, she died 3 years later. 

I thought of moving out, but I'm glad I stayed. It's excellent here, and I'm on the resident's committee now. It's sociable and easy to make friends. 

If you want to argue with someone, you’d have to try awfully hard. Everybody I've encountered has been very friendly and helpful. 

I've had an interest in photography for years, but I gave it up when Jeanette was sick. Now, I'm finally getting it going again. I'd love to take more pictures overseas. I had two great trips to Europe in 2014 and 2015. I took 8,000 photos, and believe it or not, I'm still sorting them out. 

I went to France mainly, but also Malta and Italy. I go to the same places over and over because I like that you get to know the place well. You can get around the city without a map which is excellent. The underground's easy, and you know where to stay. The cities I like the most are Paris and Rome. They're great places to be in for no other reason than to people-watch, sit in cafes, and go to art galleries. 

Support and socialising in the village 

The sense of community and support at Keperra Sanctuary is extremely high. There are about 280 of us here, of whom you see about 180 often. There are some people who just want to close the door and stay home, and that's ok too. 

We have a few big social events here. There's a dinner every month and happy hour on Fridays. There are fewer men than women here, so we blokes get together once a month. We have a drink, a chat and a laugh. The village has a mix of ages, and I feel relatively young at 71. But once you fit in, it doesn't matter. 

When you have things in common, age is something you don't think about.

Learn more about Keperra Sanctuary, QLD.

For more information about the lifestyle and support offered at our retirement villages, call our customer service team on 1800 550 550.

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