Unassuming retiree recognised as one of State’s most outstanding volunteers

Blog National Volunteer Week 18 24 May 2020

An unassuming retiree who rides his bike 10km to help out seniors at Ozcare in Townsville is being recognised as one of the state’s most outstanding volunteers.

This week, as Australians celebrate National Volunteer Week, Townsville’s John Morton will be busy bringing a smile to the faces of 175 residents at Ozcare’s Villa Vincent Aged Care Facility.

The retired supervising draughtsman has helped transform the lives and surrounds of people in the Townsville facility for several years, including many people living with dementia.

“I assist in maintaining the grounds and gardens at Ozcare and it’s like a smorgasbord of hedges, lawns, garden beds,” Mr Morton said.

“When I retired at the age of 60, I decided to do something different with far less pressure and that led to volunteering.

“It’s been a complete reversal of my work life, because I am outdoors and physically active.”

As part of his shift to volunteering, John has undertaken courses in Dementia Awareness and also Infection Control.

During COVID-19, he has managed to continue his role at the aged care home, which is a great comfort to the male residents who enjoy stopping him for a chat.

“I’m not under any pressure to perform now. I can stop for 10 minutes and pass the time of day with a resident who wants to talk to me,” he said.

Since retiring, he has spent two days a week at Ozcare, while also taking people living with a disability bike riding through Townsville Tandem Pushbike Club.

He also volunteers two days a week at Conservation Australia and has worked to clean up the North Queensland shoreline as part of the ‘Green Army’.

This Thursday, Mr Morton will vie for the North Queensland Volunteer of the Year Award.

Volunteers at the Villa Vincent facility have won the regional award three times.

This year’ regional winners will contest the Queensland Volunteer of the Year award at a function in Brisbane in late November, ahead of International Volunteer Day.