An extraordinary journey from Kent to aged care

Posted 23rd August 2023

aged care resident john foley with his familySt Vincent's Care Southport resident John Foley sharing in his 90th birthday with his family


In the heart of St Vincent's Southportresides a man whose life journey has been nothing short of remarkable. Meet John Foley, a spirited and adventurous soul whose story spans continents and experiences, from the bombs of World War II to the warm embrace of the Australian community. With a twinkle in his eye and a warm smile, John shares his life story, taking us on a captivating journey through history and the moments that shaped him. 


Born in 1932 in the picturesque county of Kent, England, fondly referred to as the "Garden of England," John's childhood was marked by tumultuous times. As war engulfed the world in 1939, John's life took an unexpected turn. The relentless bombings by the Nazi Luftwaffe put his family's home directly in harm's way. One night, an earth-shattering noise shook their shelter, and they discovered that half of their house had been destroyed. Forced to leave their home, John and his younger brother were evacuated to midland Northamptonshire. 

kent lakes and gardens with flowersKent in England. Known as the 'Garden of England'. Source:


While John's parents served in the air force, he pursued his education away from home, attending a boys' school and later a grammar school. He spent five long years away from his family, witnessing the horrors of war but never losing his adventurous spirit. 


In 1950, at the age of 16, John took a bold step and joined the Navy. His passion for photography found a home in the Naval Photographic College, where he honed his skills and became part of a distinguished group of naval photographers. He traversed the globe, documenting conflicts and capturing the extraordinary scenes that unfolded before him. 


John's journey eventually led him to New Zealand in 1953, where he resided for decadesThen, in 1988, he migrated to Australia, becoming a proud citizen. Upon arriving in his new homeland, he found a welcoming community in the RSL, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie. In his retirement, John dedicated himself to mentoring students, leaving a profound and lasting impact on their lives. 


His voluntary contributions also played an essential role in a state primary school, earning him the honour of having the school's hall named in his honourWhen John shared this news with his doctor, she couldn't help but chuckle, remarking, "But they don't do that until you're dead!". The remark filled the room with laughter, and John revelled in the humour of the situation. 


Throughout his life, John travelled to numerous corners of the world, experiencing diverse cultures and landscapes. He cherishes the memories of his adventures, admitting only a touch of regret for not having visited India. 


Now, at the age of 90, John finds solace and joy at St Vincent's Aged CareHe lived on his own for eight years after his wife's passing and considers joining the care facility a life-changing decision. He found a wealth of friends from all walks of life within the home’s warm embrace. 


Now at 90 years old, John's adventurous spirit and humour shine brightly in his everyday life at St Vincent's

"Being ex-navy, the first thing I do is make my bed!"

He checks his emails in the morning and enjoys the company of friends. With regular bus trips and outings, John shares how they're always treated to an ice-cream adventure at McDonald's. He jokes that the staff tend to feed the residents too well. 

John highlights that despite the challenges of lockdowns and the recent pandemic, his friends, both residents and staff, were always there to keep the joy alive. They visited each other, shared laughs, and, of course, indulged in more ice-cream surprises. 

"You could not find a happier, more delightful place!" 


As John's life journey continues at St Vincent's Southport, we can all learn from his resilience, sense of humour, and zest for life. Whether it's capturing moments through a camera lens or savouring the simple pleasure of an ice-cream treat, John Foley shows us that the key to a fulfilling life lies in embracing the adventure that each day brings. 


With over two years at St Vincent's Care, John declares it to be an incredible place—a joyful and delightful home that exudes happiness. As he cherishes the company of friends, old and new, John’s life story continues to be an inspiration for all those around him.  

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