Frank Roberts reckons that you don’t meet many genuine friends in a lifetime so he counts himself extremely lucky and somewhat surprised to have met fellow choir member, David, with whom he has created a unique bond.
At 95 years of age, David is the oldest Forever Choir member but Frank maintains that their friendship is absolutely on an equal footing. Don’t even think about referring to him as anything that might come close to a description of ‘carer’.
When Forever Young was first formed, there were only 5 male members, of whom Frank and David were two. They found each other easily and have stuck together since. Frank picks David up each week for choir practice then drops him home again. They spend time on the ‘blower’ occasionally and there is a relaxed ease between the two men.
“David is a great man. At 88 years of age, it’s a lovely surprise for me to make a new true friend,” Frank said.
Frank is typical of his generation. Understated, humble, giving and loyal. He is as quick as a whip with an infectious and hearty laugh. His parents and grandparents lived and worked in Bendigo, he was born at the family home in Bendigo and all three of his children still live and work in Bendigo, including Cate Brewin, who teaches at Girton Grammar School and who first introduced him to the Forever Young choir.
Frank spent his working life on the railways as an engineer and his father was a Bread Carter.
“I remember going with my father to deliver bread to homes on Saturday mornings. Dad would walk and Jack the horse faithfully followed, pulling the cart of bread. I loved those Saturday mornings.
“Dad was a Bread Carter for many years before going into the Mining Battery business, whilst my mother was at home busy with us three kids,” Frank recalls.
Frank has always loved singing but apart from singing in the choir at Bell Topper Hill No 123. , now known as California Gully Primary School, he has no formal singing experience, until now.
“The comradeship between everyone in the Forever Young choir is a marvel. It can be a bitterly cold morning with frost as thick as you like and yet 82 of us will be at the Girton Grammar Junior School hall at 9am for rehearsal when we might normally still be in the cot.
“Singing brings many of us great happiness. The annual concert is really cream on the cake. It’s the weekly rehearsals on Thursday mornings that I particularly enjoy,” he said.
When asked what he thinks of the Choir Director, Laura Dusseljee, Frank’s hearty laugh precedes his shaking head and his almost resigned response.
“There’s only one Laura and there will only ever be one Laura. She is a freak. In the nicest possible way!” he declares.