Love lost and found at Drayton Villas

For one Drayton Villas resident, the retirement village is not only home, but the spot in which his first love blossomed.

man in black cardigan and blue fitted cap holding yellow flowers at Drayton Villas

Drayton Villas holds a special place in Nelson Bothmann’s heart. It was here he had his first date with his late wife, Naida, when this was home to a drive-in theatre. After Naida was diagnosed with terminal cancer, they decided to downsize into Drayton Villas and as Nelson says poignantly, “our last date was here as well”.  Even though Naida sadly passed away 15 months after they moved in, Nelson says moving into the community was a wise move. “It was the best decision we made, with all the friendship and support we received through the whole process.”

As a third-generation farmer, Nelson spent 55 years on the family farm in Oakey before downsizing. “We had milking cows, pigs, chooks, oaten hay and forage sorghum,” he says. “I was running the piggery at 16, and when I was 18 Mum and Dad went for a holiday to the coast and left me to run the place.”

Nelson was an athletic youngster, winning the state medal for high jump in 1955. He also remembers riding his push bike down all the stairs while the teachers were away at lunch. (Don’t try this at home, folks.) As for the best advice he’s ever been given, he says, “don’t ride your pushbike up a blacksoil road when it’s wet!”

He met Naida, who happened to be his first girlfriend, at a church fellowship group. Love blossomed after their first date, and they were married in 1964. They both worked on the farm and had two children, Thalia and Wayne. On windy days, Nelson would tell Naida to skip the farm work so she could stay inside, out of the cold. On those days, Naida would ask if Nelson wanted anything. “I’d say pancakes, so she would make me pancakes for dinner.”

Despite Naida’s tragic passing, Nelson’s story has a happy ending, as Drayton Villas was the location for another love story. In 2011, he was recovering from a Hercules Tendon operation, and spent two months in a moon boot. As he tells it, “that was when Noreen started coming over to help me. She was fantastic, looking after me and bringing me food. I took her out for lunch to thank her and it all sort of started from there really. We’ve been on a few holidays together and enjoyed each other’s companionship now for nine years – it gives people something to talk about.”

Apart from finding the two loves of his life here, Nelson’s favourite memory at Drayton Villas is of Christmas street parties with their neighbours. In day-to-day life, he most enjoys the “good staff and residents who are good to get on with.” Plus, the village is convenient to everything.

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