Taihape residents want rest home

By Lin Ferguson

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DETERMINED DUO: Uffie Keefe, left, and Elsie Valle are hoping a rest home is possible again for Taihape. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
DETERMINED DUO: Uffie Keefe, left, and Elsie Valle are hoping a rest home is possible again for Taihape. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

Taihape people can discuss getting a rest home for the town at a public meeting next week at Bennett's Funeral Lounge.

The meeting is on Monday at 6pm.

Organisers Elsie Valle and Uffie Keefe said, with 3000 people living in urban and rural Taihape and at least 70 per cent of those being elderly, having no rest home is very difficult for older people.

"I know we're a small town but, really, is a small rest home too much to ask for? People have to be sent to Marton or Whanganui if they need to be in care," the women said.

The two have discussed the problem many times, but it wasn't until one night when Elsie was front of house in Al Centro, the Italian restaurant owned by her and her husband Pietro, that a corner was turned.

She was talking to a man and the conversation turned to problems small towns have.

"I was telling him it was sad because we had nowhere for our elderly to go. If they needed to go into care, they had to be taken out of town, which is very hard for elderly couples when one of them has to be taken in."

The man was very sympathetic.

He introduced himself: businessman Henry Clothier from Tirau.

Twenty years ago he had a vision for the small northern town and decided to do something about it.

He realised that many people passed through the town each day due to its situation on State Highway 1 and its proximity to many popular tourist destinations.

"Similar to Taihape in a way."

He bought an old building and turned it into a large, successful antique shop, transformed the old council building into a conference and event centre and, over the past 10 years, has been a leading force in attracting many other businesses to Tirau.

Elsie said the conversation ended with Mr Clothier offering to come to Taihape as a guest speaker and encourage the residents to really get behind the town.

"So we got the meeting all organised, and he's coming," Uffie said.

The two said although more businesses was a biggie, it was the rest home that was of prime importance.

The closure of the town's rest home and scaling back of hospital services came as a kick in the guts to the people of Taihape in 2010 and 2011.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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