Sydney-raised Cheryl Markham is an expert on professional aged care. With her late husband Derek , they owned and ran a total of three aged-care homes over 22 years. Cheryl, who began with a post-grad diploma in aged care management, says, “Aged care is an enormous responsibility but I never say management is a burden. I tell staff, whether they’re cleaners or the boss, that it’s a privilege to perhaps be the last person on earth a resident will speak to. We always took pride in giving our residents services well beyond official requirements.”
Over a decade they also spent several years travellers to and from China, particularly Nanjing, educating academics and staff there about professional care. “Our task was setting up certificated training programs, working with senior management. Traditionally their aged care workers are under-educated and low in status.”
Their first Victorian care home was Reservoir Gardens with 29 beds, and then they built South Morang Mews, with 68 beds and eight independent living units. Their last project was Heritage Lakes nearby, with 120 beds and 43 living units.
After that career she did a diploma in pastoral care with a Catholic nursing home  involving a minimum 120 hours of voluntary work. She did far more, working 3-4 days a week for a couple of years, and became official pastoral adviser there. The work book-ended her career because when young she was a scripture teacher to kids. She retired a year ago and currently lives with her daughter at Narre Warren North, but will return to Docklands after some recuperation. Her grandkids are Emily 23,  Mason 8 and Penny 3, the oldest half-Chinese and the younger two half-Greek.
She met our vice-president Anne Fairhall while doing pastoral work at the Mercy Hospital, and Anne invited her to the club.
Unlike our eight Antarctic flyers, Cheryl and Derek did the Antarctic trip by sea a decade ago, and loved it. Derek had an Antarctic connection: a lecturer on the ship said he would be talking about Sir Clements Markham and Derek said, “That’s my great-grandfather.”
Their surname “Markham” has lustre dating back to 1642: Sir Clements Robert Markham was a secretary and president of the Royal Geographic Society and promoted expeditions to the South Pole. Clements travelled the world writing many books. Cheryl says, “He sired my grandfather-in-law with a downstairs maid and gave him the Markham name, which was a bit unusual in those days.” The blue-blooded Markhams have remained prominent in Africa and in racing and rally driving. Their crest is the winged lion of Saint Mark passant guardant Or resting its dexter fore-paw on a lozenge as in the arms the halo Gules.” But Cheryl is not one to stand on ceremony: in the club she’s just one of the girls. [Important note: this is just our little joke. Cheryl’s never owned a tiara].