Rob Golding is known for putting a smile on the faces of people in Whyalla.
Performing at many community events for and alongside children, Rob’s engaging acts and hilarious costumes have kept us entertained for years.
What many people may not realise about Rob is he is much more than the man in the clown makeup.
For many senior residents in Whyalla Aged Care facilities, Rob is a helper, a listener and most of all, a friend.
Born in Whyalla, Rob moved away from his home for 17 years to pursue a career in performing arts.
“I moved back in 2006 and was very unemployed,” he said.
“I’ve got to say that the Work for the Dole scheme was really, really good.
“It gets you up and out doing stuff in the community, it is the least people can do for that money.”
Through this scheme, Rob began to volunteer with Whyalla Aged Care at the Yeltana, Copperhouse and Annie Lockwood facilities.
“I started in March of 2006, and by the end of the year in October they scooped me up and said ‘yes you’re working here’, which was really good,” he said.
“It’s such a female dominated industry, so it’s good to have males around.”
Rob said although excited for his new position, he was unaware of exactly what it required of him.
“I thought great, I’ll be a lifestyle officer, run a few games of bingo and bowls,” he said.
“[But] the job itself is very complicated - there is a lot of learning that has to go on.”
Through his position, Rob has facilitated men’s group programs to help the male residents bond and participate in activities they enjoy.
“It is the men’s choice,” he said.
“Sometimes they want a happy hour with dancing girls and sometimes they want to just go out and have a counter meal, or listen to music.
“They get to listen to music so they get to vote on what we get to do and I have to facilitate that.”
Rob said although his role was sometimes challenging, there were many rewards.
“Working in aged care you have to be a certain kind of person, but it is incredibly rewarding,” he said.
“It feels like I’ve made friends, in some instances we also become their family.”
Rob is also the proud father of an 11-year-old daughter, Jessica, who he said ‘keeps him on his toes’.
Like Rob, Jessica is also interested in performing arts and acts alongside him as part of his Club Clown business.
“I blame my mum [for my love of performing],” Rob said.
“From the age of four, my mum used to dress me up in costumes and push me on stage so I got into the performing arts quite early.”
Rob’s Club Clown runs through D’faces of Youth Arts every Wednesday and he said he believed performing taught young people to be confident.
“It’s really good to have some sort of performing art in your life, or some artistic thing you can do because it gives you confidence and you can explore that,” he said.
“That’s what I do with the kids in the community, I make sure they develop self esteem and confidence.
“It gives kids a chance to come in and explore themselves and work out whether they wanna be an acrobat or they wanna be a comedy performer or whatever they want.”
Through this, Rob has watched many of his students grow.
“One has moved away to Queensland and is working in a circus school,” he said.
“It is very rewarding.”
Rob is also an active Whyalla Players member, although this year he has taken a step back from his performing.
“Because I am not performing in Phantom, I’ve offered my services to work behind stage,” he said.
When not busy with his many community commitments, Rob said his daughter was his number one priority.
“I enjoy playing guitar and singing, but between everything I do and my daughter I’m very busy,” he said.
Looking towards the future Rob said he would continue to be a clown and look after Whyalla’s senior residents.
“I’ve been working here for eight years now and I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon,” he said.