Dolls’ houses for needy children

Vietnam veteran Ray Moore says he was never any good at woodwork at school in the 1960s, yet crafting dolls’ houses has given him fresh impetus in his 70s, particularly given the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, he was told when he was 14 he was wasting his time at school. So he left and, after a succession of jobs, worked as a butcher before enlisting in the Army at 25.

‘I joined up because I wanted a career, to get security for my wife and daughters,’ said Mr Moore, who is now 76 and lives in Wyoming on the NSW Central Coast.

‘They told me I wouldn’t be posted overseas, but when I’d finished recruit training and trade testing, the 1st Field Regiment needed a butcher, so I found myself in Nui Dat with the Service Corps.’

Mr Moore received a serious back injury when a truck backed into him, and was given spinal fusion. The intensive painkiller treatment which followed left him addicted and led to his medical discharge.

The addiction stayed with him from 1971 until 1990.

He then went to Bible College and graduated with distinctions and credits.

‘While I didn’t go into the church coming out of Bible College, I did become a pensions advocate with the Woy Woy/Ettalong/Hardys Bay RSL,’ he said. ‘I never lost a case, and some of these veterans didn’t know they were entitled to a pension.’

He said a DVA-provided occupational therapist, who was helping him deal with a serious tremor, suggested he look for a hobby and gave him a book of ideas. He was instantly taken with the idea of making dolls’ houses and made his first using scraps of cardboard.

These days his dolls’ houses come complete with miniature furniture. They are made from white board and painted balsa Mr Moore buys with his pension. Over four years, he estimates he’s made between 50 and 80. Many of them he’s given away to the Wyong Women’s Refuge.

Mr Moore said he highly recommends woodwork to other veterans who might be at a loss for something to do, particularly while they’re in isolation.