Humans of the Wheatbelt - Desraé Clarke

Humans of the Wheatbelt is an initiative run by the Wheatbelt Health Network.

Humans of the Wheatbelt is an initiative run by the Wheatbelt Health Network.

Good morning - it is Monday, February 18, 2019.

I am Anna Cornish speaking to Mrs Desraé Clarke of Toodyay b. 29.03.1940.

AC: Desraé when did you move to live in Toodyay?

DC: We moved to live in Toodyay in 1989 but prior to living here we made lots of visits to dig our driveway, etc.

AC: Did you work in Toodyay?

DC: I am a Registered Nurse (RN). I worked at Royal Perth Rehabilitation Hospital for 18 years and Toodyay Silver Chain for 17 and a half years.

I began working for Northam Hospital in 1990 as well as Toodyay Silver Chain but found the two jobs too much so I chose Silver Chain.

Silver Chain in Toodyay and Northam Silver Chain amalgamated in 1995. They were two very different districts. Northam included Seabrook, Grass Valley and Dowerin; Gingin, Bindoon and Bullsbrook were added to the overall Silver Chain coverage. It was easy to 'burn out' - the Care-aides, EN's (Enrolled Nurses') and RN's worked very hard.

I had two car accidents while with Silver Chain. It was scary as with the first one I drove 7kms without any memory of it and drove into a tree and didn't know where I was.

At the time of the second accident the weather was hot and dry. The car skidded on a gravel road and flipped into a drain on the side of the road and I was caught.

I climbed out of the car and walked up the road to a house. A man was washing his hands at a water tank. He had built a new house 2kms away but had come to dress a wound on a cow's leg. He still had the phone connected in the old house and phoned for help.

AC: Did you enjoy working for Silver Chain?

DC: I worked five years past my retirement age as I loved my work. I did notice the work did start to change to be more focussed on economic benefit rather than care.

AC: Now that you have retired what do you do with your time?

DC: I am involved in the Toodyay community with the Toodyay Naturalists' Club, the Toodyay Friends of the River and Toodyay Community Safety and Crime Prevention Association; it is wonderful to belong to these groups with Wayne. We may be changing the name to SaferToodyay.

I have been writing about herpetology (snakes, frogs, etc) for the Toodyay Herald since 1996. Wayne began writing about birds in 1998 and I draw the birds but I write the articles now as he is very busy with other things.

I have written my life history. It was to let my children know me as a person rather than just their mother. I was really pleased with the result. They did think that we were a bit weird.

AC: What other things do you do?

DC: Wayne and I have done lots of travelling and I have started editing all our diaries to have printed into a bound book. It's a really interesting project.

We have got lots of very close friends from all over the place - colleagues and former neighbours. We are very fortunate. We work hard to visit and talk to people and I still write letters to our friends.

AC: What advice could you give at this stage in your life?

DC: There are a number of phases I do not like such as ' can't be bothered, I'm going to do it', I can't afford the time'. My advice would be make the time and get results. Good comes out of anything. Stay positive.

Human - Desraé Clarke

Photographer - Sam Connor

Interviewer - Anna Cornish