HammondCare At Home client Stuart shares his remarkable journey from dairy farming to costume jewellery

HCAH enewsletter 4 Stuarts Story

Stuart has always enjoyed working with his hands and together with his wife, Joy, has built a successful custom design jewellery business spanning 35 years, which they operate from their converted garage workshop.

Stuart in his work shed with wife Joy

“These hands can do anything," says Stuart. "I started my working life back in New Zealand milking cows. Then I got into construction and studied for a builders’ licence when I moved to Sydney. Joy and I met when we were living in the same building in Potts Point. She brought a parcel to my front door from my Mum. I helped her with some DIY in her flat and she cooked me dinner. We’ve now been married for 43 years.

“Joy’s the one who started our interest in jewellery. She’d purchase pieces wholesale then sell them at Paddington Markets. I studied how they were made and wanted to have a go. It was hard work – I’d be taking pieces to be electroplated at 2am so we could get them back the same day.

“We’ve never advertised for business and still do some work for customers who’ve been with us since the beginning.

Stuart's work bench scattered with his tools“The highlight has been when we made jewellery for a locally produced film and the costume design team won an Oscar. We’ve also made pieces for films Babe, Pig in the City, Australia and the local stage production of Phantom of the Opera. Joy is the designer and I provide the brawn.

“My favourite part is soldering the copper and setting the stones into place. Early on in my Parkinson’s diagnosis it was difficult, as my hands would freeze and then relax back to normal. It’s easier now, there are people worse off than me; I feel lucky. It’s a real buzz when the customer says a finished piece ‘looks great’. It’s very therapeutic, playing with designs, the radio on in the background.”

Stuar sits at his kitchen bench enjoying tea and conversation with Hammondcare at Home carer Emma

Stuart receives daily personal care from the team at HammondCare At Home. Staff help with showering, dressing and housework; both Stuart and Joy share the cooking.

Care Manager Emma says, “They are a very appreciative couple. With our help, Stuart is able to remain independent because he is not relying on his wife Joy for support. It’s fascinating listening to their stories about making jewellery. They’ve devoted a great deal of their time and energy into creating beautiful pieces for customers.

"Now he can’t put his hands above his head, it’s a big help. HammondCare’s support means he can maintain his self-respect. Stuart insists on doing up his own buttons. He’s devised a way. It’s those hands – they can do anything.”