Home / Feros Stories / The tradie who smashed through a mid-life career change and found his true calling

The tradie who smashed through a mid-life career change and found his true calling

In a heartening story from the front lines of aged care, Tony Gillespie’s transition from a seasoned contractor to an impassioned carer flips the usual mid-life script. Tony’s journey is representative of Feros Care’s mission to overturn aged care stereotypes and shows how it’s never too late to embark on a meaningful second (or third) career. His story is now showing as part of the SMASHING documentary series, and we guarantee it’s one you won’t want to miss.  

Once a maintenance contractor who never clocked out, Tony found the perpetual demands of his job taxing. The transition from wielding tools to providing care was a significant shift, but it was one he embraced wholeheartedly.  

middle-aged tradie man standing next to his work van

“It was quite a culture shock to come from a tradie to a carer,” admits Tony. 

Scottish laddie met his bonnie lassie

Born in Glasgow, Tony’s early life was far removed from the Australian aged care sector. With his beginnings in a challenging environment, leaving school at 16, he learnt the ropes in the building trade alongside his father.  

man and his father


Decades later, a visit to Australia with his dad led him down an unexpected path when he met up with Theresa, an old childhood friend and his future wife, and inadvertently, the aged care world through her. 

“I immigrated to Australia when I was ten with my parents.  The parents stayed in contact. And Tony came over here on holiday with his dad,” says Theresa.

“Both of us were single and we ended up teaming up together,” adds Tony. 

Middle-aged man and his wife dressed up

Tony’s beginnings in aged care came after a nudge from Theresa.  

“I was working for an aged care company at the time and encouraged him to be a contractor.”  

His first jobs were handyman tasks such as safety rails, minor repairs, gutter and window cleaning for senior clients. However, it wasn’t long before his role evolved, thanks to his knack for connecting with people and his willingness to go the extra mile.  

Tony says, “Basically I would do anything they couldn’t do.” 

“Every day he would come home and he’d say he met someone really lovely today and, oh, my gosh, the stories that person had, and I thought, this could be a profession for him”, Theresa recalls. 

Middle-aged mand and wife sitting at kitchen bench having coffee


It was this joy in connecting through support that nudged Tony toward making a career switch. 

Time to make a change for the better

Facing the physical toll of over forty years in the building trade, Tony undertook a Cert 3 in Individual Care and Disability. His initial concerns about finding the right job in aged care were quickly dispelled when he joined Feros Care and found his calling, marrying his people skills with his desire to make a difference. 

“For me at my stage of life, it means I can continue working in a job I like.” 

Tony’s approach to the care he provides is deeply personal. He values the trust clients place in him and handles all his interactions with respect and humility. One such special connection is with Bob, his first client, and his wife Shelley, and their relationship is beautifully captured in Tony’s episode of SMASHING.  

“My very first client was Bob and Shell.  Good people.  Good craic.”

group of people at Smashing documentary series premiere


The handyman with a big heart

Shelley remembers how they first met Tony when he came to fix a screen door for them back in his handyman days.  She grins as she tells, “He was quiet, but he had a diabolical sense of humour.” 

After their first meeting Bob had a fall that led to an extended stay in hospital. When he was discharged, Tony, previously their handyman, was sent out as his support person and Shelley says they felt comfortable straight away because they knew his personality. 

“Within the first 10 mins I thought, this is good, he’s found his niche.” 


Middle-aged care worker sitting in lounge room with client


Tony supported Bob to rediscover his self-assurance walking safely again with his walker. Their authentic rapport went a long way to supporting Bob’s reablement and brought them both enjoyment through simple companionship. 

Middle aged care worker supporting man on walking frame


“To actually get outside and walk up the street and back again was something really special,” tells Bob. “And it’s left such an indelible impression on my mind.” 

This partnership between Tony and Bob not only facilitated Bob’s physical recovery but also bolstered his mental and emotional well-being, by sharing in simple things like playing cards or talking about things that men like to talk about.  

middles aged acre worker playing cards with client

“You can’t buy that sort of care, it’s from within, it comes from deep within,” says Shelley about Tony.  

In essence, Tony’s empathetic approach and genuine concern for Bob’s recovery journey exemplify the core values of aged care, where the focus extends beyond medical or physical assistance to encompass emotional support, thereby enriching the quality of life for those clients. 


fist bump

“It’s about, not the actual service itself, but the relationship, and it’s about the difference it makes for that person, just having someone come in, talk to them, it can make a whole difference to their life,” explains Fiona Howlett, Tony’s regional manager. 

Defying stereotypes

Tony’s story confirms that aged care is not just a field for women or those traditionally associated with caregiving roles. His background as a tradie brings a refreshing dynamic to his care approach, and the way he connects with his clients over shared experiences and interests. And it shows the rewarding potential of switching careers mid-life, proving that it’s possible to find fulfilling work that makes a real difference at any age. 

middle aged care worker with client, smiling


“Work is good for me socially, keeps me motivated, it gives me a purpose,” tells Tony.  

There is a critical need for more individuals to consider aged care as a career, and we hope Tony’s story speaks to those looking for purpose-filled work.  His episode, which you can view here, offers a glimpse into the rewarding interactions and deep connections that define the sector. As Tony’s story shows so well, aged care is about enablement and empowerment, offering both carer and client a chance to grow and find happiness. 

Tony’s episode of SMASHING aims to inspire others to explore aged care as a career option. It’s a sector ripe with opportunities for meaningful engagement, personal growth, and the chance to challenge and change stereotypes. The Tony odyssey from a tradesman to a cherished member of the aged care community paves the way for anyone seeking a rewarding and impactful second career. 

If you feel this story is nudging you to find out more, you should visit our Careers page.  


Ask a Feros Care expert
Who would you like to talk to?
Disability Support expert 9am - 4pm (AEST) Monday to Friday