A closer look at IRT Sarah Claydon
Here we take a look at IRT Sarah Claydon – how the community was established, who Sarah Claydon was and the future.
Residents and the local community have contributed to the future redevelopment plans for IRT Sarah Claydon Retirement Village and Aged Care Centre.
Opening in 1982, IRT Sarah Claydon covers some 2.6 hectares close to the township of Milton on the NSW South Coast.
Drop-in community discussions were held in November last year, collaborative design workshops were held with retirement village residents and a care team workshop was held in January 2020 to progress plans for the aged care centre. Front-line staff were also interviewed to capture what could be improved at the site and community feedback was gathered. An internal review of the master plan will continue.
“We are committed to applying feedback from residents, employees and the community into the design and layout of the redevelopment to ensure it includes optimal seniors’ living products and services,” IRT Group CEO Patrick Reid says.
Who was Sarah Claydon?
When Sarah Claydon arrived in Milton-Ulladulla in 1851, she began to care for those in her community who needed her most.
Sarah Maria Faulks arrived in Sydney from Ireland in 1830 as a two-year-old with her family aboard the Hercules.
The family moved to Coolangatta in the Shoalhaven in 1836 where her father was a policeman. At just 18 years old Sarah married a former convict, Henry Claydon, and came to live in the Ulladulla district, when he paid £100 for 100 acres near Milton in 1851.
Sarah Claydon became the district midwife, as well as nursing the sick and laying out the dead for both wealthy and poor families. She refused all payment for her help and earned the love and gratitude of the community.
Although she had no children herself, Sarah was a foster mother to two Aboriginal girls (one of whom was probably fathered by Henry Claydon).
After her death in 1876, aged 48, from a ‘uterine affection’ (probably cancer), funds collected were used to build a magnificent gravestone in the grounds of the Milton Wesleyan Church on Croobyar Road.
Source: Milton Ulladulla Historical Society www.muhsinc.org.au
How it began
The Milton community’s need for a retirement village and aged care centre helped lay the foundations for a concept that would become IRT Sarah Claydon.
Former IRT Board Member Don Davis OAM was president of the Milton-Ulladulla Rotary from 1972 to 1973 and remembers letters being published in the local paper on the subject, which prompted discussion in the community.
“Along with the late Matron Val Brearley of the Milton Hospital, we had many discussions on how we could establish a retirement village in our area, and a committee was set up in 1973, which included myself from Rotary, Matron Brearley and other representatives of the service clubs and Shoalhaven City Council.
“Our committee was named The Sarah Claydon Retirement Village steering committee, after Sarah Claydon who looked after those in need in earlier times. We raised a lot of money locally but needed people with expertise in the area. That’s when we joined IRT and were able to build the retirement village.”
Don joined the IRT Board and served alongside Dr Max Diment MBE and Noel Howard OAM.
“I was on the Board for many years, until 1986, and saw many villages established in that period,” he says. “It was an honour to serve with an organisation successfully establishing housing for the elderly to be able to stay in their local community. This was the greatest reward for all our efforts.”