Volunteering in the 70s: hair washing, baby feeding and supervising exams

Almost 90 years combined service – Blacktown Hospital volunteers Denise Enfield and Gwen Tomlin.

It was in 1969 that a Blacktown mum, Gwen Tomlin, started volunteering in Parramatta Hospital.

Three years later Gwen learned Blacktown Hospital was looking for volunteers and eagerly applied.

Gwen said volunteer duties at that time were very different.

“At Blacktown Hospital the volunteers would feed the babies who were up for adoption, fold cloth nappies into triangles, wash boys and ladies long hair, change water in patients’ vases, supervise nursing exams, wash the pathology slides, in pharmacy we would weigh the salt used in salt baths and fill up bottles of Betadine,” Gwen said.

The 89-year-old still volunteers at the hospital each Wednesday as a Pink Lady, transporting medical records throughout the hospital.

“These days the hospital is using more and more digital technology our roles are changing,” she said.

Thank you to the volunteers at Blacktown Hospital.

Another of the Pink Ladies at Blacktown Hospital is Denise Enfield, who joined the team in 1979 and has been there ever since.

Denise was involved in a motor vehicle accident which left her paralysed on one side and lost her speech.

Her dedication and commitment is unwavering as she meticulously attends the hospital to perform her duties on a weekly basis.

The 74-year-old Blacktown resident is a fantastic baker who is always happy to bake scones and birthday cakes for the volunteer groups.

She also is a general all-rounder helping fold cloth nappies in the maternity unit and replaces fresh water in patient’s vases.

“My girlfriend suggested I should volunteer at the hospital so I can get out and meet people,” Denise said.

Blacktown Hospital volunteers front row left to right front row: Cliford Treu, Beverly Jeffery, Gayle Sells and Norma Campbell.  Back row left to right Amanda Voets, Warren Coupland, Thomas Griffiths and Brian Pereira.

Both Denise and Gwen have no plans to retire in the near future and hope to encourage other volunteers to give it a go.

Blacktown Hospital’s general manager Ned Katrib congratulated the volunteers for their dedication to serving the community and assisting staff in every possible way.

“I’m new to Blacktown Hospital but I’d like to personally thank Gwen and Denise for their longevity and compassion for almost 50 years,” Ned said.

“Most people spend many years in paid work during their lifetime, it’s extraordinary that these special group of people dedicate their lives to the hospital who serve the community for no monetary benefit.”

Blacktown Hospital is currently looking for volunteers to assist in wards as companions for patients, helping people with their meals and reading.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and meet the criteria, contact Janice Low on 0439 920 337.

National Volunteer Week is 20-26 May, 2019 – being the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers.

Blacktown National Volunteer Week. Left to right: Katherine Cox (NUM Cancer Services), Serap Boyali (Palliative care volunteer)

A couple of crafty and talented volunteers have made ‘infinity scarves’ for patients receiving chemotherapy at the Blacktown Hospital Cancer Centre.

WSLHD Palliative and Supportive services volunteer manager Kylie Clark said the scarves would keep patients warm and comfortable, especially after they receive chemotherapy.

“A big thank you to volunteer Ursula who weaved the beautiful scarves for the patients,” said Kylie.

“This only seems a small thing, but for our patients these small things make a huge difference to their comfort and dignity during their treatment.”