Volunteers serve Gladstone Hospital for more than 200 years
When seven women gathered for morning tea at Barney Point, more than 200 years of volunteering and dedication to Gladstone Hospital was on display.
Between Judith Hiskens, Clare Weston and Robin Hunt alone, there are more than 140 years as volunteer members of the Gladstone Hospital Auxiliary Association Inc.
The three stalwarts joined four other members, including current president Cheryl Bensted, to catch up post-COVID and plan their fundraising efforts.
A former vice-president and treasurer, Mrs Hiskens said she had been giving her time to the hospital for 53 years.
“Originally I joined because there were a group of American ladies from Keiser Engineers that wanted to do something for the town while they were living here and they formed a hospital aides group,” she said.
“We used to make up cotton balls, dressings and wind-up second hand bandages in those days.
“Then I found out that the dispensary needed to prepare all their mixtures with dangerous drugs in them, and because I was a pharmacist I offered to help.”
From there, with several other women, the auxiliary was formed.
“It has been very, very rewarding,” she said.
“I’ve met some lovely people who have become lifelong friends.
“Back in those days the hospital was an old wooden building and the mosquitoes and sandflies were rife.”
With almost 50 years’ service, Mrs Weston said she had enjoyed every minute of it.
“I was working at Meals on Wheels and one of the ladies asked me if I wanted to join,” she said.
“It has been a wonderful experience, we’ve made lifelong friends and it's a lovely group where nobody talks about politics or religion, we have a laugh.
“We go there for companionship and then we’re working the whole time and we’re all friends and have stayed friends all of these years.”
From the fruits of their volunteer labour, Gladstone Hospital has got numerous pieces of equipment including wheelchairs, breathing apparatus and equipment to lift patients out of beds.
Over the years the auxiliary has raised several hundred thousand dollars towards helping Gladstone Hospital.
Mrs Bensted said over the past eight years the auxiliary had raised more than $200,000.
“When the gas works came to town they were wonderful, they donated a lot of money toward equipment,” she said.
“One day we wrote over 80 letters to see what donations they would be able to help us with.
The auxiliary meets to volunteer on the second and fourth Thursday of the month at Gladstone Hospital from 9am, plus have a monthly meeting.
“Over the years we have given so much to the hospital and its really rewarding for our ladies to be able to do that,” Mrs Bensted said.
Gladstone Hospital director of nursing Nicole Branch paid tribute to the auxiliary members whose support over many years has been invaluable.
“Not only do these wonderful people give up their time to help out and connect with staff at the hospital, they have raised many thousands of dollars over the years to buy extras and equipment to help our patients,” she said.
“We’re so very fortunate at Gladstone Hospital to have been the beneficiary of much community support over the years, and the members of Gladstone Hospital Auxiliary are our biggest supporters; they’re tireless in their efforts to make a difference for our community.
“I can’t speak highly enough of this group of dedicated and generous community members and what they’ve given us over many years.”