Allen Bishop, who has given 10 years of his life to volunteering at our Villa Vincent aged care facility in Townsville, has been recognised for his efforts when he was named North Queensland Volunteer of the Year in an awards celebration last week.
From master glazier to Jack-of-all-trades, Allen Bishop is a familiar and well loved member of the Ozcare Villa Vincent family. Having spent his working life as a glass beveller with Northern Glass in Townsville, Allen transferred his considerable skills to his volunteer work at Villa Vincent.
Ten years ago, Allen signed on as a volunteer at the Villa. Since then, he has consistently worked 40 hour weeks under the guidance of the Villa’s Diversional Therapist, Yolanda Berthelsen. Allen volunteers Monday to Friday at the Villa and works eight hour days. This equates to a full working week where each days begins at 7.30am and finishes at 3.30pm. Given that Allen is seventy-six years old, this is an incredibly inspiring effort. Yet, for Allen Bishop, this is retirement.
This extraordinary commitment to volunteering suits Allen down to the ground for he is kept busy and that’s the way he likes it. In spite of an ongoing battle with his left leg which has been ravaged by cancer and, in Allen’s words, ‘slows him down a bit,’ Allen makes his way around the Villa on a daily basis as he goes cheerfully about his work. He says he has nothing to complain about where his leg is concerned because he’s, ‘still got it.’ It is this fortitude and Allen’s positive attitude to life that endears him to both the residents and staff of Villa Vincent.
Every day, Allen sets aside his personal health concerns and gives his attention to the residents of Villa Vincent. Dressed in his brightly cheery shirts, he greets them all by name. ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ is the advice he gives everyone and it is clear it’s a philosophy that he has adopted and made his own. It is also an outlook he passes on to the incoming volunteers he mentors as he encourages them to look on the bright side of life especially when interacting with the Villa’s elderly residents.
Allen’s optimistic view of the world is ideally suited to Villa Vincent’s Aged Care Facility as there is no doubt that residents appreciate and value the sunny greetings, good spirits and cheer that Allen Bishop brings to their lives five days a week.
Allen’s day begins with the birds. Whistling to budgerigars and cockatiels as he cleans their cages, feeds and waters them is a chirpy start. There are six cages throughout the facility which Allen attends to.
He then gets down to work and this largely involves off-siding for the Diversional Therapist, Yolanda Berthelsen, who says, ‘I’d be lost without Allen.’ In assisting her, Allen has become a Jack-of-all-trades. He is continually making templates, tools and knick-knacks and often has a stepladder in hand. Using his initiative, Allen made a trolley for moving materials and equipment around the facility, painted it pink and decorated it with a large smiley face. On occasion, Allen gives the maintenance officer a hand to complete a job that is better managed with two people. Over the years, Allen has continually demonstrated that he is innovative and able to improvise to get a job done or fix something that needs fixing.
Allen Bishop’s dedication and commitment to volunteering is truly inspiring. He has given, and continues to give, his time, attention and skills in a truly heartfelt manner to all at Ozcare Villa Vincent. In spite of his considerable personal health concerns, he is unfailingly cheerful and always has time to chat with residents, to share a joke or tell a story. It is volunteers like Allen who add joy to the lives of Townsville’s elderly citizens.
Congratulations Allen Bishop on an award well deserved.