Dave’s Story | Telethon Speech & Hearing

Dave’s Story

“I had taken the amazing work all our staff do for granted and the role Telethon Speech & Hearing plays to the whole family unit – we change peoples’ lives.”

To celebrate our 50th year anniversary, Telethon Speech & Hearing (TSH) will be showcasing 50 stories of people who have been a part of our organisation’s history since 1967.

Picture of Dave Harben

Today’s highlighted story is a Q&A with TSH Maintenance Leader, Dave Harben.

Q: How did you first get involved with TSH?

D: I started working for Telethon Speech & Hearing as a sub-contracting handyman in March 2004. At the time TSH had a gardener/handyman, Keith Myles, who was the most delightful well-loved man. He was finding some of the larger projects outside his skill set and too large to handle on his own so I was called in to help out around the place and start work on some upcoming projects. In 2008, Keith sadly passed away and I was asked to fill the position whilst they sourced a replacement. I was fortunate enough to then be offered a permanent contract and have been here ever since!

Telethon Speech & Hearing under construction.

Q: How have you seen the organisation grow over the years?

D: I have been very fortunate to see the organisation grow into the amazing place it is today. When I first started, the Crommelin building was our main operational hub, housing just about every department. The school had a couple hexagonal classrooms and used the demountables within the grounds of Bold Park Community School.

During my time here, I have been involved with the construction of the Wyllie Building, the new playground, various temporary office accommodation, and upgrading the beautiful Boat Shed building donated to us by current TSH Patron, Nigel Satterley. I was also here when the Bendat Parent & Community Centre was built, which was an amazing project.

The biggest project I undertook was the upgrading of Dodd Street just after the opening of the Bendat building. This project was in partnership with the Town of Cambridge and was a logistical nightmare with staff, clients, general public and our two neighbouring schools all being affected.

Telethon Speech & Hearing through the years.

Q: What is your most memorable moment?

D: My most memorable moments have so often come from TSH’s playground where so many wonderful stories are heard, and the noise of happy kids is ever present; however I distinctly remember one morning after school drop off I came across a Mum sitting on a wooden bench with her head in her hands, crying. I was unsure what to do so just asked if she was OK.

She looked up and with a smile said:

“I’m sorry these really are happy tears. We have struggled for years getting our little boy to school, and to just be happy. This morning after only 3 weeks he was up and rushing us out the door. His confidence is growing and he is a happy person, which is making our home life normal again. I  feel so relieved.”

I had taken the amazing work all our staff do for granted and the role TSH plays to the whole family unit – we change peoples’ lives.

Q: What has motivated you to stay at TSH?

D: My motivation to stay here is boringly simple – it’s just a fantastic place, that really does do amazing work.

Q: Tell us about a family/child you have met at TSH.

D: Where do I start? It’s been a blessing to have met so many families, including twins in Early Intervention who never spoke to anyone and now yell across the corridor, “Hi Dave!” as they arrive. There’s also little Beau and his family who are just pure inspiration.

Q: Tell us something about TSH facilities that only you would know.

D: If I divulged that it would no longer be a secret, but I can say my autobiography will be a great read!!

Q: How do you hope the organisation grows into the future?

D: I sincerely hope we are recognised as a world leader in our various professional fields and can continue to provide those in need the best services and facilities possible. I hope we are able to work collaboratively with similar organisations and professions for the betterment of the services.

My motivation to stay here is boringly simple – it’s just a fantastic place, that really does do amazing work.

TSH’s new playground, thanks to the generosity of many donors and supporters.

Q: Any handyman tips you could share with us?

D: Keep your fingers well clear of any drop saws……

About Dave

Dave Harben is Telethon Speech & Hearing’s trusted Maintenance Leader and has been working with  our organisation since 2004.

Known as the “tall, friendly man in blue”, Dave’s bright smile is a welcome sight every morning to all guests and families at our centre. Highly professional and skilled in his craft, Dave ensures the grounds and facilities of TSH are both safe and of excellent quality for all staff, families and children to enjoy.