AFTER 20 years of doing business in Windsor, Gae Kelly has hung-up her hat. The former Windsor Business Group (WBG) secretary is retiring, and is looking forward to having some time to herself.
But will she really be able to cut herself off from Windsor and its business community? “In a sense it’s broken my heart,” Mrs Kelly told the Gazette.
“I have an absolute passion for the community. Not just because this is where we live, but this is also where our children grew up. I just really want to see the area grow.
“I still have a passion for the WBG and I still will help them where I can - but not on a daily basis. This is our time now - we need time for us.”
Mrs Kelly (70) was a member of WBG for 13 years, and was secretary for over a decade. She and her husband Mike owned and ran restaurant Trentino’s on George in Windsor for almost 20 years, closing it in April last year.
“We bought it on April Fool’s Day would you believe!” laughed the Pitt Town resident.
“We’ve been working 16-hour days because Mike and I did all the shifts. Early in the piece we were doing seven days a week but for the last two years it’s been six days a week and a lot of hours.
“Some of our grandchildren thought that our house was the restaurant, which was really sad! So it was a very difficult decision to make.”
The couple raised four sons in the Hawkesbury, and now they have 11 grandchildren. Among the hours Mrs Kelly put in at the restaurant, she was also doing a minimum of 10 voluntary hours a week with the WBG.
“One week before Christmas I did 30 hours [with WBG] and the next week I did 40. My blood pressure was extremely high when we sold the restaurant and I needed to wind down,” she said.
“But I’ll be helping with the WBG markets [in South Windsor] this weekend, and I’ll still put in a letter for the budget with Council - but now as an individual rather than as WBG secretary. I want to see things happening and I want to see this area as it used to be, a long time ago.”
She said unstable government had a huge impact on the viability of Trentino’s. “People were scared, and they didn’t know what was going to happen. Consequently takings almost halved. It’s pretty sad that government could have such an impression, but the first thing that suffers seems to be restaurants. People say, ‘I can afford to buy that outfit but I can’t afford to go out to dinner as much as we want to’,” she said.
“You noticed the change in Windsor as well, not just in restaurants - it was everything. You used to have a lot of tour groups coming through the area. We used to have a bus come through and we were packed every day of the week. We also used to do the meals for the Hawkesbury Clydesdales Horse Drawn Restaurant, before that went. Things have just disappeared over the years. And the shops have closed as well.”
Her message to the people of the Hawkesbury? “Please shop in Windsor. Be local, and shop local. Tell all your friends. Do all you birthdays, Christmas shopping, Mother’s and Father’s day shopping here. Appreciate the area, because it is absolutely beautiful,” she said.
“Come to Windsor. Come and have a look. Have a look at the old historic buildings - it’s something that is precious to Australia. If you’re not coming to Windsor you’re doing yourself an injustice. We have some lovely shops and you should support them.”
She said she’ll miss her friends at the WBG but she’ll keep in touch with them. “It’s been an important part of my life over the years and they’ve really encouraged me,” she said.
“We’ve met some lovely people through the restaurant and through WBG. We just love those people and we’ll keep those friendships because we think they’ll last forever.”