Our resident Graham is a true winner

20 February 2021
Group photo of our Sacred Heart Community residents and staff at the Senior of the Year award ceremony

In the lead up to the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards, local residents and passerbys may have caught sight of Graham Townsend wheeling loads of suits, shirts, ties and shoes down Grey Street from our St Kilda op shop to Sacred Heart Community’s residency.

While this is a familiar route for Graham, who is known to make the trip up Grey Street to buy cigarettes for his ‘crew’, this time the journey was in the name of fashion.

Graham was nominated by Sacred Heart Mission for the award because of his tireless effort as a resident representative. After being invited to the awards night with his crew of 11 fellow residents, Graham realised they all needed a new outfit for the awards ceremony. That’s when Sacred Heart Mission op shop stepped in, offering each member of the group an outfit from our Grey Street store to spruce up for the big night out.

In preparation, St Kilda store manager, Peter Callaghan stockpiled incoming formal attire based on the measurements supplied by Graham, and over the weeks, Graham would manage suit fittings for his friends to make sure they were all dressed to impress.

“Graham did it all himself,” Peter says. “He just took piles of clothes down and came back with piles until they all got suited out. He’s wonderful. He’s very popular. He pays attention to people’s needs.”

Graham wanted everyone dressed to the nines because they were all going to meet the Governor at the award ceremony.

“Everyone had a suit on, and they scrubbed up really good,” Graham says. “They all got something special to wear and the only way to describe it was an honour to do this for Sacred Heart Mission and all my crew felt the same way.”

Cut to the steps of Government House next to Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens, Graham and the crew are dressed head to toe in their new ensemble and their excitement is palpable. They head into the beautifully decorated ballroom with its throne-like Governors chair at the end and caterers buzzing around offering finger food and drinks. The crew pose for photos for newspapers and television stations, and then Graham and Sacred Heart Community Manager Margaret head over to their special seats at the front of the room.

“The buzz in the room was enormous,” Margaret says. “There were so many people receiving awards that day. So, it was fantastic for Graham.”

It could be easy to be overwhelmed by the glitz and glamour, however as Graham describes, he’s most proud of the fact they’re all at Government House together, as a family.

“The best part about it was that we were there as a group, we were there as a family because we were all there for one another,” he says. “Even when it was finished, two days later, they were still talking about it and that’s what we want. We want to encourage everyone to be involved in things like that.”

Currently, Graham’s trophy for the COTA Senior Achievers Award 2019 sits in his room, however he intends on displaying it proudly to the public.

“We have a new section opening up in the building here and we are going to have a display section of all different awards and we are going to have them in there. It makes me proud because I know I’m doing something for Sacred Heart Mission,” Graham says.

From everyone here at Sacred Heart Mission, we congratulate Graham on his award and everyone that helped prepare him and his crew in the lead up to the big day.