Resthaven Malvern resident Colin James is volunteering his time by painting wooden toys to donate to children in need this Christmas.
"Dad’s always been a Mr Fix It, tinkering in the shed," says his daughter, Kaye.
"Once, he even turned an old washing machine tub into a barbeque! He’s quite the innovator."
Mr James admits this is true, saying, "I also used to go around the streets and gather timber and cut them out, and make racing cars."
"Woodworking is great – you can make anything you want."
Mr James’ hands may not be up to woodworking anymore, but he is still a dab hand with a paint brush. This is what gave Kaye the idea to bring in some wooden toys for her dad to decorate.
Born in Gumeracha in 1928 ("I was a leap year baby!"), Mr James has always been familiar with the much-beloved local toy factory, the Gumeracha ‘Big Rocking Horse’.
Now, Kaye, who was also born in Gumeracha, buys locally made wooden toy kits from this iconic location, and brings them "down the hill" to her dad to paint in his room at Resthaven Malvern.
Kaye says, "I go back up to Gumeracha and pick up a few bits and pieces for dad."
"So far, we’ve painted a couple of wooden jeeps, caravans, and a semi-trailer. A tractor is next."
"I help dad with the windows – they’re a bit fiddly – but dad does the rest."
"The project really keeps dad alert and interested."
Mr James adds, "It’s also nice to give something back."
The toys go to the Salvation Army, with Kaye explaining that "we wrap them up with lovely cellophane and put them under the Unley Christmas tree."
Mr James has lived in Unley for around 50 years, and is "very happy" with the support he receives at Resthaven Malvern.
"Dad couldn’t be at home, and the move into residential care was hard to begin with," explains Kaye.
"But Resthaven Malvern is so close to me in Highgate, and mum comes in every day too."
"The staff are always so friendly; we’re able to come in and out whenever we want."
"We sometimes bring our dogs in too – it’s so nice to bring in the family pets, although they’re a bit big to sit on dad’s lap!"
"Dad loves the activities here too – the films, concerts and Bingo are his favourite."
Mr James says, "When I first came in, I wasn’t too good. I never thought I’d be around three years later."
Kaye adds with a smile, "But you are dad, thanks to the great care you receive at Resthaven."