Giving the gift of music

April 06, 2018

Astrid Gough has volunteered as a pianist at Banksia Village for more than eight years.

When Astrid Gough came to visit her friend Elsie Smith at Banksia Village nine years ago, she couldn’t help but notice a lonely piano sitting in the community room.

As soon as Elsie said ‘‘no-one plays it’’, Mrs Gough knew that situation needed to change.

For the past eight-and-a-half years, Mrs Gough has played the organ or the piano and shared her music with the residents.

‘‘I play a lot of hits from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and the residents love them,’’ Mrs Gough said.

‘‘They sing and tap their feet because I play what they enjoy.’’

The 80-year-old pianist has lived a colourful life, and was born and bred in Shepparton.

‘‘I definitely know a thing or two about the place.’’

After leaving school, Mrs Gough began working in the office of her father’s garage.

She would also often help ferry cars and trucks from Melbourne to Shepparton.

At just 13 years old, Mrs Gough was pulled over by a local police officer, Bob Dowdell, who is now a resident at Banksia Village.

‘‘Bob pulled me over while I was at the wheel, with my dad asleep in the passenger seat,’’ Mrs Gough recalled.

‘‘He said: ‘at least pull out your pigtails!’’’

Mrs Gough and Mr Dowdell still laugh about that moment, 67 years later.

While working at the garage, Astrid met her husband Arnold and the couple was married in 1958.

Mrs Gough found herself accompanying her husband — a prominent businessman and former president of the Rotary Club of Shepparton — to many social events.

As a sufferer of agoraphobia, attending such events was often a daunting task.

‘‘It was difficult but something I have become better with,’’ Mrs Gough said.

She discovered she had the disorder after hearing about it on the radio with a friend.

After receiving a call from her friend, the pair created a self-help group in 1978.

‘‘We used to help each other with trips, like Centrelink and going to the dentist,’’ Mrs Gough said. ‘‘We meet on a social basis now.’’

Mrs Gough has also been involved with Shepparton District Probus Club for 20 years and now spends much of her time making cards for various occasions.

She enjoys coming to Banksia Village and putting a smile on the residents’ faces.

‘‘I love helping and working with care manager David Shipston.

‘‘It’s a pleasure working with him and his caring staff.’’

Mrs Gough also plays at Hakea Lodge on a monthly basis

‘‘I really enjoy being a volunteer and hope I can continue for as long as possible.

‘‘I’m just taking it all one day at a time.’’

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