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Meet Robert and Wally

After busy working lives, Robert and Wally were looking for opportunities to take things slower while remaining active, connected and challenged. Volunteering has given them opportunities and connections that have made retired life all that much better.

Robert - Red Shed - Community Volunteer
Wally - Community Volunteer

Robert — Red Shed and Wally — Community Volunteer

When Robert saw a sign about the community shed that was being planned in Uraidla he thought it sounded like something he might give a go. He has a trade background and has built his own house so he's pretty handy, but he's not a big socialiser. Robert's mates laughed when he told them because he has a huge shed of his own at home but - as he said -

"My shed may be four times bigger than the Red Shed, but I work in that shed by myself."

So in 2014 Robert got involved — and he has been ever since.

"I didn't know what to expect and I really wrote my own script about how it went which really suits my character. I ended up as the voluntary Coordinator as things just needed to get done or organised and so that's what I did."

On the two days the shed operates they get between 5 – 15 people making things for themselves, others and the community, including planter boxes for the main street and spinning tops to sell at the Uraidla show.

"The best part of volunteering at the shed is the stories. One day over morning tea we got talking about our youth and the stories just flowed and flowed until I felt I was floating on them – that's a special feeling."

Robert thinks people hold back from getting involved in community things like volunteering or the Red Shed because they think they don't have the skills or experience but his advice is simple.

"Just give it a go and see what happens, you can write your own script too."

Wally had a long and busy working life and spent some years caring for his Dad who passed away at the ripe old age of 104. Once his caring duties were over Wally channelled his energy and expertise into volunteering as the Woodside community bus coordinator. It wasn't long before he was doing all sorts of other roles.

"I played piano for 'Mind Matters' (part of the positive aging program) and took over coordinating the bus at Gumeracha. I sometimes help on the bus and even drive it if need be."

Wally's advice to potential volunteers is to "Go for it!"

"It's been the best part of my working life. You don't have any of the pressures but you get a lot of satisfaction from achieving things, keeping your brain active and your skills up."

"You also receive so much back from the community who truly appreciate the efforts we make – whether it's a word of thanks or a gift of some sort, it's great to feel valued."

Considering Wally is an A-Grade table tennis player who still plays with his family and friends, it's no surprise he is so active. He even has a few premierships under his belt.

Wally says it's amazing to see volunteers in their 80 and 90s out in the Hills helping other 'oldies'. And given the longevity that runs in Wally's family – no doubt he has a lot more volunteering left to do!

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