It was all smiling at the Asquith Golf Club in March 2021, when Beris Collins celebrated her 90th birthday. Receiving support from Achieve Australia for more than 60 years, Beris’ parents were among the first founders of Mt Own. In the 1960s, this was a home for people with disability. The home went on to become Hornsby Challenge and Achieve Australia in the years to follow.
This legacy meant that Beris’ birthday was attended by many of her Achieve family and friends, who celebrated at a lunch event just for her. Leading up to the big day, there was a lot of excitement in the air. “I was excited for quite a few weeks before and loved getting dressed up in my best party clothes and special hat,” said Beris. “I was thrilled to see all the decorations, especially the balloons, and my friends on the day.”
Senior Achieve Australia staff and friends all attended the lunch where everyone wrote a special message for Beris in a keepsake book. Linda Rose Archer supports Beris at home where she receives 24/7 daily living services. She says the day was a memorable one for Beris and the team.
“Beris was really happy to see all her friends at lunch. We even had a surprise visit from an old staff member, who Beris was very close to, and she became quite emotional as she hadn’t seen him for some time,” Linda explained. “She loved everyone singing happy birthday to her, joined in the singing herself and posed for many photographs.”
Not only does Beris love a great party, but she also enjoys staying connected to her community. She is highly regarded and valued by her long-time housemates, neighbours and church group. The Hornsby local has many friends in the area who know her well and enjoy catching up for regular chats each day.
Jacqueline Goody was a Service Coordinator in the Hornsby area at Achieve Australia at the time of the party. “Everyone knows and loves Beris in the local area. She loves to have everyone around her, so her birthday was really special,” Jacqueline said. “Even at the age of 90 she is still very energetic and has a spring in her step!”
It is this spring in her step that sees Beris maintain an active lifestyle with the support of her carers. On a regular basis, she catches up with friends for coffee or lunch, goes shopping and enjoys doing beading, arts and craft. “I like living with my friends and seeing my staff come every day to help me,” Beris said. “And I love to help with chores around the house and spend time sitting in the sun, writing in my books and doing beadwork.”
Now, aged 91, Beris continues living the good life in Hornsby. Her new care team say that Beris still enjoys getting out and about to see the many friends she has in the local community. At a recent celebration for Achieve Australia’s 70th anniversary, Beris got dressed up with her friends and enjoyed singing and dancing at the gala event.
At home, Beris likes to feed the birds in the garden every morning, sort jigsaw puzzles pieces and have fun baking cakes with staff. Music is also a big part of Beris’ life and she loves to sing along with support staff and play the drums.
“Beris enjoys every moment and has a great time when she’s out,” said Achieve Australia’s Service Manager for Hornsby Ibrahim Sankoh. “The most important thing in her life is her friends and the people she lives with. Beris cares about them a lot.”
Until her next birthday party comes around, keeping busy, connected and active seem to be a good approach to a long and happy life for Beris.