The aroma of searing chops and boerewors filled the air at Huis Luckhoff home for the aged on Friday September 23 as residents, staff and guests marked Heritage Day a day early with a sumptuous braai.
The occasion was not only used to unveil the home’s new purpose-built braai facility, but also to pay tribute to Huis Luckhoff’s late estate manager, Danie le Roux, who died in February.
For many residents, it was the first time in many years they had been able to savour the delights only a traditional South African braai can bring.
Christo van Lill, who took over the role of manager four months ago, has made it a top priority to bring joy to the faces of 210 elderly folk under his care.
“Huis Luckoff is one big family. Many residents are completely alone in the world, and I believe it is my responsibility to lift their spirits wherever I can,” Mr Van Lill said.
“One of our residents who has been at Huis Luckhoff told me that in 23 years she had not enjoyed a good South African braai. That is unacceptable – a braai is part of our culture as South Africans, and everyone should have the chance to enjoy one.”
On a beautiful spring day, the residents gathered in all their finery to enjoy the spectacle, delicious fare and joyful banter.
Staff of Western Province Caterers, which sees to the dietary needs of the residents, also dressed up in traditional attire and sang and danced for guests.
The new braai pit was named in Mr Le Roux’s honour, and unveiled by his widow and Huis Luckhoff secretary, Annette Le Roux, who paid an emotional tribute to her late husband.
Since assuming his duties, Mr Van Lill has introduced significant changes to the home.
Where previously the gardens were without foliage and the flooring and boundary walls were crumbling, the building has been given a new lease on life. “We still have a lot do to. We have started painting the exterior walls, which had been painted with the wrong paint,” Mr Van Lill said during a brief tour of the home.
“This is an expensive and time-consuming business, but it has to be done. I think what many don’t realise is that facilities such as these report to the government, so we have to make sure that we meet all the required standards. Recently, we received a 10 out of 10 scoring from the inspector, but your work is never done. You have to put everything in place and then ensure that it is maintained,” said Mr Van Lill.
The home’s residents praised Mr Van Lill’s efforts.
“The changes he has made have been long overdue,” said Huis Luckhoff housing committee member Victor Hermans, who has lived at the home for nine years.
“Christo is making a big difference. He is also changing attitudes to make people much happier.”
“Tannie” Esme Vivier, a resident of 11 years, described Mr Van Lill as “a wonderful boss”.
“I am really in love with him,” she quipped.
“The changes he has made since his arrival have been wonderful.”
Mr Van Lill said he hoped the braai would be one of many more to come.