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30 years of sanctuary

Janene Crockett is a mother-of-three, but often feels like she has four children.

For the past 30 years, while raising her family, Mrs Crockett has also played a mother-like role in the evolution of Reg Leonard House, Mater’s accommodation facility for people from rural and regional areas who have a loved one receiving care at a Mater hospital.

Mrs Crockett, a former Mater nurse, and her husband Des, also a long-time Mater employee, were brought on board as managers of the facility before the first family checked in back in 1979.

In the 30 years since, Reg Leonard House has grown from eight to 17 units and has a beautiful lush garden, which the Crocketts created, that envelopes occupants in a warm embrace when they arrive back at their temporary home from the stressful confines of the hospital ward.

Reg Leonard House, which predates other patient-family accommodation facilities such as Ronald McDonald House, was the brainchild of prominent Australian journalist and media personality Sir Reg Leonard.

In the 1970s, after observing the challenges faced by families when a child requires long-term hospital care, Sir Reg (as he became known) saw a need for affordable accommodation to house families who had to travel from outside of Brisbane to seek treatment at Mater.

Sir Reg was the Chairman of the Children’s Hospital Appeal at the time and in 1978, in partnership with the Sisters of Mercy, he created Reg Leonard House at 24 Clarence Street, South Brisbane on the outskirts of the Mater complex. A second facility – Leonard Lodge – was later opened at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Originally, Reg Leonard House’s occupants were families with children receiving care at Mater Children’s Hospital, but over the years the facility has broadened its charter to encompass any family with a loved one receiving care at Mater’s South Brisbane hospitals complex.

As Manager of Reg Leonard House, Mrs Crockett (her husband Des sadly past away in 2002) welcomes guests when they check-in, keeps a comforting and watchful eye on them during their stay, helps them with everyday needs such as shopping and washing and maintains the beautiful grounds that make this home-away-from-home the sanctuary it is.

Reg Leonard House hosts about 600 families a year; some stay for a week, some for a month and some for a year. On 3 September 2009, a birthday celebration was held to celebrate Reg Leonard House’s 30 years of operation. A key part of the celebration was a hot cuppa, which has become a feature of Reg Leonard House’s annual birthday celebrations.

“Sir Reg always enjoyed a party and he put in place an annual birthday morning tea back at the beginning,” Mrs Crockett explained.

“About eight sisters from the Mater convent joined us on 3 September for a cuppa and it was a lovely celebration,” she said.

In its three decades Reg Leonard House has provided accommodation for 18,000 families.

Mrs Crockett said her role as manager had been infinitely fulfilling.

“My husband and I raised our family here while helping other families face the most difficult of circumstances,” she said.

“I like to think what we provided and continue to provide is a relaxed environment, where people can feel comfortable. They are close to the hospital but not right there every minute of the day.”

Reg Leonard House turns 30

Reg Leonard House turns 30

 

To ensure we continue our commitment to meet the health care needs of the community, Mater has developed business strategies which address the issues of financial, social and environmental sustainability.

This website has been developed in accord with these strategies, and is the accompaniment to a summary document printed on recycled paper.