THE threat of rain did not deter hundreds of people from gathering to celebrate the official opening of the 40-bed extension to Banyula Lodge in Old Bar.
Rows of white chairs lined the outdoor undercover area and were quickly claimed by more than 200 people on Saturday, August 16 in readiness for the official opening by Barbara Hargans.
Mrs Hargans association with the lodge began in 2008 when her mum Ellen, also known as Nell, Rose McCudden entered care firstly for respite and later as a permanent resident.
On Saturday Mrs Hargans unveiled a plaque confirming 40 beds have been designed and built to provide a safe and secure area for residents of the future who have a dementia-related diagnosis.
The event enabled her to highlight some of the special times she spent with her mother at the lodge and her interactions with other residents during her visits. She also recognised and thanked lodge staff for their role and services they deliver with a large measure of care and love on a daily basis.
Greater Taree City Council mayor, Paul Hogan also attended the event and spoke of the history and development of Banyula Village and acknowledged the work by Bushland Health Group.
According to Bushland Health group chief executive officer, Denis Hawkins, Cr Hogan said the group "had been able to create a village with independent living and a care facility the community has come to respect, recommend and use as the needs are identified."
Mr Hawkins also commented that Bushland Health Group chairman of the board of directors, Graham Brown outlined the organisations role in the community "while acknowledging the fact the organisation is actually a product of the community spirit of the residents of the Manning Valley and is in reality, owned by and operated for the community."
Mr Hawkins said a number of former directors of the company attended the event including Kerry Hole and his wife Audrey.
Mr Hole is the sole surviving member of the founding organisations establishment committee, a former chairman of the board and management committee member from 1958.
Mr Hole also took on the role as one of three trustees of the organisation in the late 1970s and officially opened Banyula Village Old Bar on May 25, 1995. He retired from the board of directors on June 19, 1995 after more than 37 years of active involvement in the management and operations of Manning Valley Senior Citizens Home's Limited and the founding organisation.
Also at the event was Ern Death, also a former director and chairman of the board of directors, Liz Jarvis, a former director and treasurer and Barbara Edwards, also a former director.
The additional 40 beds brings the total number of beds to 80 and it is the latest development in a five-year $15 million capital works expansion that was announced by the board of directors in September 2011.