Blacktown Hospital volunteer Gwen Tomlin has spent half of her life helping the patients and communities of western Sydney.
The spritely 91 year-old started volunteering at Parramatta Hospital in 1969 where she helped eye patients write letters for their loved ones, was a personal shopper, made beds and fed babies who were awaiting adoption.
This week is National Volunteers Week (17 – 23 May) and Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is recognising the hundreds of volunteers who have dedicated time, service and care to our hospitals and patients.
Gwen eventually joined Blacktown Hospital as a “Pink Lady” volunteer on 14 May, 1970 where she remains to this day.
The Blacktown great-grandmother has three children who are in their 60s, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“I’ve been a patient of Blacktown Hospital just once when I was 80,” Gwen said.
Gwen attributes her longevity and dedication to volunteering, keeping busy, and living an active and healthy lifestyle.
“It must be in our family genes because all my kids and family are all healthy,” she reflected
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people and have made lots of friends and companions by being a hospital volunteer.”
Blacktown Hospital Pink Lady coordinator Betty Starkey also shares a lengthy history along with Gwen. Betty joined the Pink Ladies in 1980, providing support and manages their daily duties.
“It’s an absolute pleasure working with the Pink Ladies. The hours they have contributed to the hospital is outstanding they deserve many accolades for their time and effort,” Betty said.
“I congratulate and thank Gwen Tomlin for being the longest serving Pink Lady at Blacktown Hospital!”
Westmead Hospital Volunteer Guide, Patricia Bombardiere was recognised for 30 years of service to the hospital.
“My friend encouraged me to become a volunteer at Westmead Hospital and thirty years later I’m still here,” Patricia said.
“I started work at Westmead Hospital in 1990 with the hospital’s ‘first’ volunteer, Shirley Willis and since then I’ve enjoyed every moment.
“People appreciate my help because sometimes they are not always in a good way especially when their loved ones are in ICU or Emergency,” Patricia said.
The 85-year old mother-of-two works the early shift, providing a guide service for patients who arrive early for appointments.
Take time this week to thank a volunteer for their selfless, tireless time and care dedication they give to our families and friends.
WSLHD Executive Director of Operations, Alison Derrett said the volunteers had been greatly missed since their absence from the hospitals last year due to COVID-19.
“It’s wonderful to see so many groups of volunteers returning to our hospitals to generously give their time and energy to help our patients and communities,” Alison said.
“The volunteers have been part of our hospitals for many years and have adapted to meet the needs of the hospitals and communities.”
If you’re interested in volunteering at Westmead, Blacktown, Mount Druitt and Auburn hospitals, click here for more information.
This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week is Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine.