Ross Woolman has one mission every day: he is determined to make someone smile.
For more than four years, Mr Woolman has dedicated his time to improving the lives of elderly residents at the Junee Multipurpose Service.
But he never imagined he would be awarded for it.
So Mr Woolman said it was a shock when he was last week named the region’s top volunteer at the annual MLHD Health Excellence Awards ceremony.
“You never think you are going to be recognised for what you do,” Mr Woolman said.
“You do it because you like doing it.”
Among a number of tasks and jobs, Mr Woolman runs gentle exercise classes, cooks, plays board games with the residents and drives the bus for special outings.
He said the cooking had only happened after he “made the mistake” of sharing savoury muffins he had baked.
Mr Woolman chuckled as he explained how everyone now wanted them.
The Junee man said he visited the hospital three or four times a week to help out wherever he was needed.
This is in addition to the tai chi he teaches in town.
“Sometimes I just sit with residents and talk,” he said.
“It is a wonderful experience.
“I feel as though I’ve done a good job if I can make someone smile.”
The 74-year-old said some residents felt as if they had been “dumped by their family” and would very rarely receive visits.
“That could be me one day,” Mr Woolman said. “I just think about how I want to be treated and I do that.”
Mr Woolman said it was easy to do.
He couldn’t believe it when his name was called out.
“There were other nominees who had been volunteering longer than me,” Mr Woolman said.
“I was thinking: ‘I have no hope here’.”
But the choice was not a surprise to the hospital’s staff and residents at Junee, who referred to Mr Woolman as “invaluable”.
In the award dedication, the 74-year-old was described caring, respectful and a champion of aged care, making residents feel included and valued.
“I just sat there for a while at the ceremony,” Mr Woolman said.
“It couldn’t have been me.”
MLHD chief executive Jill Ludford last week praised more than 3800 doctors, nurses, volunteers and practitioners across the region.
Ms Ludford said the 2018 Excellence Awards recognised and celebrated the achievements, dedication and contribution they had made across the year.
Winners of this year’s Health Excellence Awards
- Board Chair’s Choice Award: Presented to Wagga’s Paediatric Feeding Team
- Chief Executive’s Choice Award: Presented to Finley Innovation and Clinical Redesign manager Annie Williams
- Research & Innovation Award: Presented to Young’s Mental Health Physical Healthcare and Clozapine Coordination district clinical leader Gale Hynes
- 2017 Don Kendell Memorial Leadership Award: Presented to Young’s Mental Health Physical Healthcare and Clozapine Coordination district clinical leader Gale Hynes
- Our People Our Future Award: Presented to Griffith Base Hospital Emergency Department
- Executive Director Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Award: Presented to Jenny McKenzie
- Leadership Award: Presented to Jenny McKenzie
- Innovation Award: Presented to Deniliquin, Temora and Tumut’s Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway
- Focus on Wellness Award: Presented to the district’s School Canteen Network Project team
- Volunteer Award: Presented to Junee’s Ross Woolman
- Quality and Safety Award: Presented to Creating Positive Cultures working party, in Wagga
- Excellence Award: Presented to Wagga’s Mental Health Drug & Alcohol Multidisciplinary team
- Diversity Award: Presented to West Wyalong Health Service manager Rhonda Pitt
- Collaboration Award: Presented to Wagga’s Got It initiative
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award: Presented to Focus on the Future partnership at Narrandera