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September 19, 2023

From Stables to Retirement Living: Tim Cooke’s Life Journey

My journey kicked off when I was just 14 years old. The year was 1963. I waved goodbye to school and hello to an apprenticeship as a jockey. I joined a stable in Sydney, and that’s when my love for horses truly took off. Leaving home at 14 was a big step, but that’s how it goes sometimes. My horse’s name was Smokey Lass. She was one of the many horses in the stable. 

That gig didn’t last too long though – turns out I got too heavy for it. But I did manage to ride two winners before my time was up. Smokey Lass and Princess Wanda. I didn’t give up on horses though; I’d head back to the stables whenever I had the chance, to watch the race. Now, I am not too active. The last time I did horse-riding was 25 years ago. I still keep up with horse races on TV, and I’m a fan of football, cricket, golf, and tennis. I’ve got my eyes on most sports.



After working as a jockey, I joined an engineering firm. They were in the car parts business, and I worked in their warehouse. Spent a good 13 years there. Then the firm went ahead and bought a seatbelt company in 1974. Seatbelts were becoming a thing in Australia. The company I worked for, TRW, was international, and we had ties with a German seatbelt manufacturer. We were the folks making seatbelts for Holden cars – and when those first Commodores rolled out, we had a hand in those too. Even Ford cars and Nissans had our seatbelts at the time.  

Back in those days, we supplied engine parts and valves to countries all across the globe. The first Datsuns that made their way to Australia, they had our engine valves. But things changed rapidly – within a few years, we weren’t making much here anymore. Everything was being imported from Japan, who was pretty much making everything. So, the company went from having 1,100 employees to almost none. 

After that, I worked as a courier for many years. Then I had an unfortunate run-in – I got run over at work. My driving days weren’t what they used to be, so I shifted gears to the admin side of things. I spent the next 13 years in customer service for Toll Transport, which was still connected to the company I’d been working for. I called it a day at 69. That’s when I retired and ended up here at RSL LifeCare John Goodlet Manor. I’ve been here since. 

I’ve got a daughter and a son who come and meet me and treat me incredibly well. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter than her. And the grandkids? We get along just fine, although this year, I’ve missed a few things like their football matches due to the weather.



My daughter found RSL LifeCare for me. I’ve been a resident at RSL LifeCare for nearly seven years now. I’m 76 years old, and I’ve got to say, I’m treated well here. This place lets me do what I want, when I want. And the best part? I get along with everyone just fine. No troubles in sight. We laugh, we joke – it’s all good vibes. The staff are a great bunch. Mon, Cynthia, Julia, and Jason – all of them. Not a single complaint from me.

– Tim Cooke, RSL LifeCare resident 

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Undertake a participating certification through the RSL LifeCare Earn and Learn Incentive Program1 and you could be eligible to have your learning fully funded.

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