In the mottled sunlight outside the main entrance of Westmead Hospital, Margaret and Michael Sheehan share a quiet moment on the benches.
Sitting side by side, the couple, who have been married for over 40 years, reflect on what a huge part of their lives this hospital has been.
When Michael was asked when he first started working at Westmead Hospital in Domestic Services, he immediately replied: “3 September, 1979”.
It was Michael who first introduced Margaret to the idea of volunteering – he had been working at the hospital for a while, and she was eager to put her energy into helping people and making a difference.
Now, some 33 years later, Margaret remains a valued and passionate volunteer at the hospital.
“I’ve spent over half my life volunteering! I was a bored housewife at home, and at that time Michael worked here and he saw the stall with all the knitted things,” Margaret said.
“I’m a crocheter and I knit, and I thought it would give me something to do. So I got involved.”
After Michael retired, he found himself joining Margaret in the volunteering team. At first, it was a fortnightly visit, but soon enough he was with Margaret for her weekly shift.
The pair, who live in western Sydney, said they love their roles as volunteers at Westmead Hospital because it gives them a chance to help others while also keeping active themselves.
“I’ve had an upbringing of volunteering – my mother volunteered and it’s in my blood. We do these things together – after all, we’ve been married 42 years,” Margaret said.
“It’s good for your health. It’s a great way to be social and help others.
“I’ve been doing it for so long because I want to be the longest-serving volunteer here!”