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Docklander - September 2013

03 Sep 2013

Docklander - September 2013 Image

A man of hidden talents

One of Docklands’ newest residents, Tom Ogley, is a man of hidden talents.

The 81-year-old moved from St Andrews Beach on the Mornington Peninsula to an apartment in Docklands around three months ago.

Tom’s move was prompted by a desire to be closer to Melbourne’s nightlife.

Not content to sit at home, Tom would drive from the peninsula into the city two or three nights a week to go “rock and roll” dancing at inner-city clubs.

After deciding he wanted to live closer to the city, Tom’s daughter brought him to have a look at Docklands.

Within half an hour of arriving he had decided that Docklands was to be his new home, with the public transport links one of the main drawcards.

Although his nights are now easily occupied, Tom said upon first moving to Docklands he was at a loss for what to do during the day.

When he lived at St Andrews Beach Tom spent his days tending to an enormous garden, an activity that isn’t possible when you live in an inner-city apartment.

“It’s fantastic living in Docklands, so close to the city,” Tom said. “But I was lost during the day and having been so active I had to find something to do.”

Luckily, Tom discovered the Mission to Seafarers, which was in need of a volunteer to tend to its courtyard garden.

Tom can now be found at the mission every day, working hard to transform the garden and helping out wherever else he is needed.

“Now I’ve got exactly what I wanted,” Tom said.

As an added bonus, volunteering at the mission also means he has got a place to practise his tap-dancing.

Alongside his “rock and roll” dancing, Tom has also been tap-dancing since he was a child.

He first learnt how to tap-dance in London, where he lived before moving to Australia with his family at the age of 30.

After continuously getting into fistfights as a child, he and a friend were punished with tap-dancing classes, which they took for a year.

Eventually Tom told his teacher that he wouldn’t be continuing the classes because he wanted to take up soccer.

“I went to my teacher and told her I would stop and she said ‘No Tom, you can’t leave. You’ve got something in your feet that people would die for,’” Tom said.

While he didn’t continue to take classes Tom did take up tap-dancing again as an adult and the friend he took classes with went on to become a professional tap dancer.

After spending the day working in the garden Tom practises his tap-dancing in the Mission’s Norla Dome.

Tom said people are often amazed by how active he was and he is commonly asked what his secret is to living a long and healthy life.

“I can’t put my finger on anything except maybe luck,” Tom said.

“Although I would say it’s important not to stress out. The next day or the next week you’ll wonder why you did,” he added.

It’s clear Tom has led a very interesting life and has plenty more stories up his sleeve.

“It’s amazing, life - if you use it,” Tom said.

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