The Hills Shire Council celebrated the achievements of its volunteers during National Volunteer Week and FOCUS had the opportunity to catch-up with volunteer extraordinaires, Les and Gloria Brown.
Between them, they have more than 80-years’ worth of volunteering experience and FOCUS had the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on volunteering and why they give so generously of their time.
How many years have you been volunteering with The Hills Shire Council?
Les: 45 years.
Gloria: 39 years.
Why did you decide to take up volunteering?
Les: We only lived 100 metres away from Eric Mobbs Reserve and we got involved when the kids started to take up sport.
Council was doing a call out and asking for volunteer rangers to look after Eric Mobbs Reserve when it was first opened. And I think I was one of the first to put up my hand to be a ranger down there.
From there, I held various positions on the 355 committee, including Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. It was really active and really fun.
Gloria: I joined Bushcare a few years after Les. I couldn’t join straight away, as we had a young child at the time. I then joined the 355 Committee that ran the park [Eric Mobbs Reserve].
What motivates you to be a volunteer?
Les: For me, it’s seeing the young kids take on an active role. We had kids come who were completing their Duke of Edinburgh Award join us and they have an absolute ball. They generally stayed longer than the program required them to.
Gloria: I had a nursery business of my own and I just loved plants and walking through the bush.
My health now doesn’t allow me to do strong Bushcare work, but I go down and weed the garden, prune and prepare the barbecue lunch for the rest of the volunteers. I love it and I love seeing the outcome of all the work that’s completed around the park and people enjoying the environment.
What keeps you volunteering?
Les: You don’t volunteer for rewards or the desire for recognition for that number of years. It’s the people you meet that make you want to continue to do it. It’s just so rewarding.
Gloria: We just love it and love what we do. You make so many good friends from it and I like encouraging others to do the walks through the Reserve.
What’s been a memorable moment in your volunteer career to date?
Les: There have been so many. But for me, it’s meeting new people and making so many good friends.
Gloria: One thing that we are proud of is planting thousands of trees down at the Park [Eric Mobbs Reserve]. In particular, there is a concrete pathway where we planted an avenue of eucalypts. They were seedlings when we planted them and now years later they have grown up and formed a beautiful archway over the pathway.
Another moment was being apart of the 355 committee who raised funds through casual bookings of the fields and the money was used to construct the children’s playground and provide equipment and seating around the fields at the Park. We see them all being used every week and that’s the most rewarding thing about it.
What other volunteering pursuits have you been involved in?
Les and Gloria: Planet Ark and Clean-up Australia Day.
Why should others get involved in volunteering?
Les and Gloria: Just make the break because it’s just so rewarding. Anyone can do it!
To join a Bushcare group listed below or for any further information regarding Bushcare, contact The Hills Shire Council’s Bushcare Office on (02) 9843 0108 or (02) 9843 0555, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete an online volunteer application form.