The McRitchie Family.

John and Ursula met in 1958 in Germany, whilst John was on tour with the National Service from the UK. Ursula was working as a stewardess on a bus John boarded heading to a wine festival. They married in 1961 in the Catholic Church at the camp where John was based

They settled in England and bought a tiny house in Durham where they lived until 1964. When they decided they didn’t want to live in England anymore, they chose to move to Australia with their two children because John liked to watch cricket test matches on the news from Melbourne and thought it looked pretty good!

When John and Ursula arrived with their two children in Victoria in March 1964, they bought a block of land in Bell Post Hill and had a house built by the end of the year. John started working at Alcoa, where he would continue to work for 28 years as a fitter.

When the Bell Post Hill house got too small for their growing family, they moved to 7 acres at Teesdale, where the children attended Teesdale Primary School. After about 8 years the travel to work became too much for John and they moved to Bannockburn.

John was a keen motorcycle rider, owning two Hondas and one BMW. The BMW only lasted three weeks when John had a collision with a car on his way home from work. Both John and the bike caught fire, and he spent a lot of time in hospital recovering.

John and Ursula have eleven children, the youngest of which passed away at 4 ½ years old. We spoke to them about their son Peter, who has a lived experience with disability.

Peter attends day programs and has a Support Coordinator through Gateways Support Services, however due to COVID-19, programs have not been running for quite some time. John and Ursula began taking Peter walking with them each morning and evening. Each morning, John and Peter walk to get the paper, and of an evening Peter walks again with Ursula around Bannockburn. COVID-19 lockdown was difficult for Peter, with a disrupted routine and, no longer able to enjoy their annual Queensland holiday, he struggled. John and Ursula have always been mindful of staying healthy and active, and walking with Peter has helped him slowly return to his normal self.

John and Ursula noticed a greater sense of community during the COVID-19 lockdown, with many out walking and exercising and greeting each other as they passed.

We asked John and Ursula if they had a piece of advice to share? They both agreed having faith and being thankful for all experiences in life has sustained their long relationship and strong family connections. 

#LifeChanges #KeepMoving #StayActive #humansingeelong

Photo: Phil Hines Photography

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