TDHS Respite Care Dorothy Bettens Dennis Bettens Fiona Hanel

Good karma finds the Bettens in their time of need

Photo above (l-r): Dorothy Bettens, Fiona Hanel and Dennis Betterns during one of Dennis’ stays in respite care at TDHS prior to the coronavirus restrictions.

Years of volunteerism for Timboon and District Healthcare Service (TDHS) has come full circle for Dorothy and Dennis Bettens, who now find themselves on the receiving end.

WWII veteran Dennis, 96, and Dorothy, 89, were meals on wheels volunteers for TDHS for many years and Dorothy also gave her time generously to the Timboon Op-Shop.

Now at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, the couple are isolated in their own home and Dennis is unable to utilise respite care on the ward at TDHS like he normally would.

So instead, the team from TDHS is making daily visits to the couple to help monitor and maintain their home and health.

TDHS assessment service officer Fiona Hanel said the Bettens had helped so many other people in the community through their volunteerism over the years and it was fitting that in their time of need they could also get the vital support needed to stay in their home safely.

“Dennis is 96 and he had started coming into TDHS for a bit of a break in respite care which gave Dorothy a break as well, as she is his primary carer,” Ms Hanel said.

“We had services coming to them regularly. Initially it was three meals a week and Dorothy also had private cleaners and gardeners.

“Now with the coronavirus, we needed to keep them isolated in their own home, so someone comes every day to help with their personal hygiene, meals, shopping medication, paying the bills and other daily tasks.

“There is no need for them to go out into the big wide world at all – they are perfectly safe in their own home. When the restrictions are relaxed and we are able to, they will both come back to TDHS for a little holiday…Dorothy will have well and truly earned it.”

Dennis was born in Cornwall in England and Dorothy in Toronto, Canada. The two migrants met in Melbourne after the war and married in 1954.

Dennis volunteered to serve in the RAF in 1942 were he rose to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. He served in the UK and the Middle East flying mainly Wellingtons and Warwicks before heading up a glider training school that trained other pilots for combat.

Towards the end of the war he performed air-sea rescue off the coast of South Africa and Rhodesia. Dorothy also had exposure to the WWII as a schoolgirl living through the London Blitz.

After marrying, Dennis and Dorothy purchased a 250-acre bush block in the area now known as Melrose Road in Cooriemungle. Their three children, Denise, Phillip and Eric were all born at the Timboon hospital and have moved out of the district. Dennis and Dorothy retired into Timboon 28 years ago.

* Even though respite care is currently on hold due to coronavirus restrictions, people can still contact Fiona Hanel on 5558 6000 for more information about respite options at TDHS.

Photos below: Flight Lieutenant Dennis Bettens RAF WWII and a wedding photo of Dennis and Dorothy Bettens (nee Champion) from 23 September 1954.

Flight Lieutenant Dennis Bettens RAF WWII

Wedding Photos of Dennis and Dorothy Bettens (nee Champion) 23 September 1954


  • Denise T
    Posted at 14:53h, 21 April Reply

    Thanks to the local community at Timboon and district healthcare especially the amazing Fiona Hanel.

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