BIG DAY: Joyce Glasheen celebrates her 100th birthday surrounded by family. Daughters Trish Hughes and Roslyn Cook, her sister Betty Christofis and son Kevin Glasheen join her at a Southport retirement home.
BIG DAY: Joyce Glasheen celebrates her 100th birthday surrounded by family. Daughters Trish Hughes and Roslyn Cook, her sister Betty Christofis and son Kevin Glasheen join her at a Southport retirement home. contributed

Centenarian's life filled with community service

IT WAS 1952 when Joyce Glasheen and her husband Jack moved to Coolangatta from Dayboro to man the ambulance station.

The couple and their three young children lived above the ambulance centre on Griffith St - where Calypso Plaza now stands.

Jack, the superintendent/secretary of the Coolangatta Tweed Heads Centre, was ready to jump into action any time of the day or night.

For more than 20 years, Jack and Joyce dedicated themselves to helping their community. Now, as Joyce celebrates her 100th birthday, the Glasheen family looks back at their legacy.

 

Joyce's husband and QTAB superintendent/secretary Jack Glasheen.
Joyce's husband and QTAB superintendent/secretary Jack Glasheen. contributed

Work-life balance

Living above the ambulance station meant the only real time off the family had was when they went away on holidays, Joyce and Jack's son Kevin said.

"Dad was always on duty really, even when he wasn't working," he said.

"Downstairs used to be the casualty room. People would come up from the beach if they were stung by bluebottles, or if they cut their foot on glass or got badly sunburnt.

"There were a couple of casualty rooms where you'd go in and get first aid. Then if it was bad enough the ambulance would take you to the doctor."

When the family arrived in Coolangatta, the closest hospitals were in Murwillumbah and Brisbane.

Phone calls in the middle of the night would pull Jack away to crashes and the two-plus hour drive to Brisbane to deliver injured patients to hospital.

Kevin remembered being in the control room with his father when the news came through that the Coolangatta Hotel was ablaze, with many people still inside.

"He was so calm, just calmly organised things," Kevin said.

"There was another young guy (an ambulance bearer) who lived a few doors away. I had to run down and get him out of bed."

Patrons and police officers were injured in the fire. Some breathed in fumes, others had broken bones or deep cuts from falling timber and searing hot steel, but none were killed.

Eight officers received awards for their courage in rescuing people from the burning building on January 1, 1975.

 

Joyce Glasheen celebrated her 100th birthday on January 2.
Joyce Glasheen celebrated her 100th birthday on January 2. contributed

Above and beyond

As well as helping the sick and injured, Jack's role included fundraising to support the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade, as it was then called, and that too was a family affair.

At Christmas and Easter they would do a chocolate run and hold bingo on the foreshore at Tweed Heads during the carnival.

Joyce would regularly cater QATB events and the ambulance committee's annual general meetings, and the couple were both active Rotary Club members.

Married to the ambulance

In 1974, Queensland governor Colin Hannah presented Jack with an award for his services to the sick and injured. Jack was also made a serving brother of the venerable order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.

"Mum was very proud of him," Kevin said.

"She used to say he was married to the ambulance but she was always there for him and supported him in everything he did.

"She was his strength really. They were married a long time and between bringing up a family and trying to run the ambulance, it was a big job."

After Jack's sudden death from heart failure in 1976, Joyce moved to Currumbin and later to Pine Lake Village, Elanora, until November 2016 when she moved into the Villa La Salle care home at Southport. It was there Joyce celebrated her 100th birthday with family on January 2.



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