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Don's life reveals a rich tapestry of roles

At the urging of his children, Don Newton recently compiled a photo journal documenting his life, revealing a "remarkable story".
South Australian, Don Newton, says he has led a brilliant life, and continues to do so at ViTA, a state of the art centre that supports older people to rehabilitate, regain health and live good lives.
South Australian, Don Newton, says he has led a brilliant life, and continues to do so at ViTA, a state of the art centre that supports older people to rehabilitate, regain health and live good lives.

From a Yorke Peninsula farm hand to a celebrated local boxer to South Australia’s most highly decorated fire officer, Mr Newton's life is a rich tapestry of experiences and roles.

Born in the tiny town of Curramulka on the Yorke Peninsula, Mr Newton went to work at the age of 14 on a nearby farm to help his mother in a role as breadwinner, having had six younger siblings.

Working from dawn until dusk for 10 shillings a week (barely $1 a week), Mr Newton gave his mum seven shillings and sixpence of his pay and the rest he spent on a ticket to the movies.

He soon moved to a different farm where he was paid 15 shillings a week and gave him every Sunday off.

After a couple of years, Mr Newton visited Adelaide for his summer break.

“I loved it. I went to the pictures three times in one day and thought it was marvellous!” he says.

Mr Newton then moved to the "big smoke" and landed a job with a boot maker. To boost his weekly pay, he answered an advertisement for trainee boxers, as he described himself as a "big lad and good fighter as a kid".

Within weeks he was earning more from boxing as ‘Kid Don’ than he was from his day job – and was making quite a name for himself.

When he turned 18, Don joined the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service and a 40 year career followed.

A highlight was being awarded a swag of bravery medals in 1955 after retrieving the body of a man who had fallen to his death down a mineshaft in the Adelaide Hills – 340 feet underground. No one at the time knew how deep the shaft was, and Mr Newton was lowered down on a wire cable attached to a tow truck, making it a tricky and extremely dangerous retrieval.

Mr Newton says he has led a brilliant life, and continues to do so at ViTA, a state of the art centre that supports older people to rehabilitate, regain health and live good lives. It is a joint progressive partnership between South Australian aged care provider, ACH Group, SA Health and Flinders University, combining the best practice approaches to health and aged care with a focus on teaching and research.

At ViTA, Mr Newton is often involved in social activities and, through the internet, keeps up to date with the world news – one of his greatest interests.

“I’ve certainly been very lucky, and have had and continue to have opportunities, perhaps, that others may not have," he says.

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