Story by Neil Cadigan
It’s appropriate that Royce Simmons’ epic fund-raising walk would begin at Gooloogong, the tiny town north-west of Cowra he once called home, and finish (before a lap of honour at BlueBet Stadium) at The Royce retirement complex at Penrith which he now calls home.
And the fact the shy but determined young footballer who left the Central West now lives with his wife Liane, a local girl from Cowra, at a community named after him, is quite a metaphor for his journey.
Royce and Liane left their one-acre property with its large house at Wallacia to down-size to a two-bedroom apartment at The Royce and they couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, they had not been there long when Royce received his dementia diagnosis but they have the comfort that they will be well looked with a dementia facility on the site for when Royce may have to have extra care.
The Royce is part of the Tulich group run by Maurie Tulich and his daughter Bianca, which has six retirement and aged care communities in New South Wales, each dedicated to the ongoing independence and comfort of each and every resident. The Tulich philosophy is that at the heart of living retirement is that it, far from being a time to slow down, it marks a new beginning in life.
So how did it come for our Royce to be living at The Royce (completed in 2020), or the initial connection?
“Our marketing team set about looking for a name as we searched for something that resonated locally,” Bianca Tulich said. “Royce’s name kept coming up and we knew about Royce’s values and how popular he was in the community because of that, and his humility, and it was a perfect match.
“His values of honesty and integrity aligned with ours and we asked him to come aboard as a brand ambassador as well. We can’t believe how things have developed from that.
“With Royce and Liane living here now, they have brought so many people together and helped create an atmosphere that we could all have dreamt of. We want to develop our communities as a great place to live an active life, and have somewhere to meet friends and family. We have stylish apartments with modern facilities and people can enjoy a new, exciting period of their lives.
“Royce is integral to that; he’s so popular and always happy to give people his time.”
Royce often holds court when the Panthers’ away matches are shown on a big screen in the bar and was known to request Roy Orbison classics when residents sat on their balconies overlooking the large courtyard and listened to music on a speaker during Covid restrictions. And he admits he might occasionally abuse the honesty system of keeping your own ‘chit’ from the courtesy bar, where residents are required to list how many drinks they have removed.
“When I put down two strokes, people think its two beers … in the end I have to be honest and confess it’s an 11,” he laughed.
“We love living here and being part of this little community. It’s so close to work, the stadium and the club too – and it’s so well run with fantastic facilities,” he added. “It’s like living in a resort with a café, gym, bar, spa; we can look out to the mountains from our balcony and walk across the road to watch home games.”
Liane says, “I love our little unit and where we live. It’s 20 steps from one end to the other, not too much to clean, has a beautiful kitchen, and I love coming downstairs to get my hair and nails done, and have nice cup of coffee in the cafe.”
From a place few had heard of, as a player yet to make his name, to a home named after him, our Royce has travelled more than the 300km he has just retraced.