Alistair and Shirley Lloyd have spent almost 59 years of their married life giving – whether it is through fostering more than 70 babies or adopting two children with disabilities and this is on top of raising their own three children.
They say that through giving they have received a lot more back.
Villa Maria Catholic Homes is proud to say the couple have been part of the VMCH family since their adopted daughter Alana joined our Early Childhood Intervention Program about 16 years ago.
Soon the couple will move to the new VMCH retirement village St Joseph’s Mews.
The family are also valued and long-time VMCH donors and share the story about their enduring and special connection with VMCH.
You have a long association with VMCH. When and how did it start?
“Alana started at an early intervention program from when she was 10-months-old. When she was five she went to the school,” Shirley said.
“Alana, who has cerebral palsy and cortical vision impairment, is now 17 and a senior at St Paul’s College in Kew.
“It’s quite a special school. The teacher who had her in her first year is still there, we’re all still together. The people there know her they know everything about her, everything about us.”
You are soon embarking on a new chapter of your life. How are you feeling about your move to the retirement village, St Joseph’s Mews?
“We’re downsizing. After almost 59 years (of marriage) it’s a bit daunting,” Shirley said.
“Villa Maria Catholic Homes have been very supportive in this move because we have a son at home with a disability and they have made it possible for us to take him with us to the unit,” Alistair said.
“Moving into St Joseph’s Mews, we’re not buying into a unit, we’re buying into a community and with people that care about each other.”
“At our age we knew that we were not going to be around forever for Stephen and it was an enormous worry that they have made easy for us,”Shirley added.
You are also valued VMCH donors. What motivates you to give back to the organisation?
“The thing that they (VMCH) have stressed all along and the thing we have found … has been that they care about the family. It is not about the child, it’s not about us, it’s about the family,” Shirley said.
“And they stress to us that VMCH is a community and it really truly is like nothing else we’ve experienced – which is why we have wanted to support them as much as we can in return,” Shirley said.
“It is a way that we can demonstrate that we value, beyond belief, what they do,” Alistair said.
“We want to see it be able to continue to do this not only for us, but for other people.”
A big part of your life has been your work as foster parents. Can you tell us about that?
“In 1970 we started with the Women’s Hospital. They were advertising for foster mothers (for babies). I saw that and I thought that’s me. It’s been my passion,” Shirley said.
“I loved every one of them and the two that weren’t adopted were the two that we adopted ourselves.
“I always felt that I got more than I ever could give. Those babies, while I had them, from the minute I picked them up. I was that’ baby’s mother.”
“It was great. Shirley was so happy, I was happy. We were able to have a great life together. The kids didn’t restrict us in any way,” Alistair said.
“We keep in touch with several of them and we enjoy their milestones as they grow up and turn 21 and get married.”
After 58 years of marriage you are obviously still very happy. What’s the secret to a long and happy marriage?
“Doing what I’m told,” Alistair quickly replies.
“I’ve trained him well,” Shirley adds with a chuckle.
“On May 3 it will be 59 years of marriage. We’ve had a happy life. We laugh a lot.”
“We support each other. We still enjoy each other’s company,” Alistair adds.