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Eighty-Six-Year-Old Tom Lives Out Life-Long Dream

on the Wednesday, June 23, 2021

On Saturday 5 June 2021, Resthaven Northern Community Services client, Mr Thomas Grindlay, lived out his life-long dream, driving one of Australia’s most iconic steam trains at the National Rail Museum at 76 Lipson Street, Port Adelaide.

Every Thursday, Mr Grindlay joins a social group at Resthaven Northern Community Services, where clients enjoy a range of activities that are tailored to their own specific interests.

Karen Hammond, Manager of Resthaven Northern Community Services says, "Tom and I have had many chats about his childhood dream to drive a steam train, and at his age, he thought that would remain an unfulfilled ambition."

"One day, Tom showed me his childhood journals, from when he was around ten years old. They were all about trains! I knew then that we had to try to fulfil this childhood dream for him."

With this determination to make Mr Grindlay’s dream a reality, the team at Resthaven Northern Community Services contacted the National Railway Museum. Here, a vast Australian Railway Collection is on view, including the steam locomotive, Peronne (1918 Andrew Barclay 0-6-0 Tank Locomotive). There were four Peronne Engines manufactured in France towards the end of WWI. They never made it to war, and all four came to Australia, with one still being fired up for the occasional ‘driver experience’, alongside the museum’s enthusiastic volunteers.

"The volunteers at the museum explained that it was possible for Tom to drive the Peronne, and this was Tom’s opportunity. We were so excited to book it for him, and for his social group friends to join in the fun," says Karen.

At 1 pm on Saturday 5 June, Tom put on his engineer’s hat and climbed the steep stairs into the cabin of the Peronne, while his friends took their seats in the carriage.

With the steam pouring out of the stack, Tom took his spot in the cabin and drove the Peronne, with his Thursday afternoon social group friends as passengers.

Mr Grindlay said, "The smokestack on the Peronne is similar to those manufactured in Scotland, my birthplace."

"It was a wonderful experience. Words cannot express how I feel. Thanks so much to the staff for organising it for me."

"I am pleased that I could share this adventure with my friends from Resthaven Northern Community Services. It was truly a dream come true!"

Resthaven’s social group aims to keep people socially active to help maintain mental health and wellbeing, meeting people, going on outings, and enjoying activities with like-minded people.

Being socially isolated and lonely is a risk to people’s quality of life. Groups such as Tom’s build new friendships and opportunities to participate in outings such as this.

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