WHEN Colleen Hargarve’s husband died recently, she began thinking about how she could help others.
Mrs Hargrave has been spending time with the region’s elderly, making regular visits to nursing homes to be with residents whose families can rarely visit.
“One lady, her dementia is so bad virtually all I do is talk to her, listen to her things that don’t make any sense and we hold hands,” she said.
With some tears welling, she spoke with genuine warmth about her nursing home friend.
“I don’t like leaving her. I could cry when I have to leave,” she said
“She is just such a dear, beautiful soul.”
She was recognised for her work at Tamworth Regional Council’s Gift of Time Ceremony, where the region’s volunteer hours are tallied and honoured for the year. In 2018, more than 270,000 hours had been given by volunteers at 44 organisations.
Mrs Hargrave has been volunteering for the community visitor scheme for about 18 months.
“I hadn’t done it either until I lost my husband and I was alone and it starts to make you think, ‘Well, where do we end up?’” she said.
It’s a hard gig Mrs Hargrave has chosen, and one which has its moments of grief.
“I have lost two of mine that I originally started with,” she said.
“In both cases it was a bit of a blow, because I got there before I knew they passed away.
“If you understand death comes to all of us and in my belief it is not the end, it’s a new life and they are in a better place with no suffering and pain.”
Co-ordinator Sue Dykes said the organisation was crying out for volunteers and sometimes found itself in a predicament where its helpers were older than the nursing home residents.
Mrs Dykes said the role gave people “a better understanding of life and … how to relate to people”.
Council volunteer co-ordinator Veronica Filby said: “It’s important to sing thanks to the often-unsung heroes of the region, and The Gift of Time Ceremony is a way that we can formally do this.
“We encourage anyone who is wanting to give back to the community to reach out and get involved.
“The more helping hands we have, the more we can achieve across the entire region.”
Mayor Col Murray expressed his gratitude to the local volunteers present at the ceremony: “Without your contribution, hard work and generosity, the Tamworth community simply would not function the way that it does.
“On behalf of the entire region, I want to thank you for your efforts.”