Volunteer Week: Twins still helping

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Twin sisters Virginia Bult and Cleone McAllister have been long-time volunteers for Naponda Hospital Auxiliary.

Cleone and Virginia moved to Deniliquin in 1960 at the age of 17 years. 

They lived in the original Police Station house next door to the hospital and Cleone started work in administration at the original office which was a demountable building and Virginia worked at Bult’s Pharmacy in Cressy St.

The pair were long-time helpers for the Red Cross Trolley program that was started in 1958.

They give up their valuable time to visit the patients with a trolley full of surprises from books, magazines, sweets and even supply items that patients may need including pyjamas, nighties and soap.

‘‘I can still remember the ladies who ran it at the time they were Ella McAllister, Doreen Maw and Sybil Holloway,’’ Cleone said.

‘‘It was on Tuesday and Friday. In 1958 they sold cigarettes, matches, tobacco, shaving cream and the local Maher’s Cordial that was manufactured in Deniliquin.’’

The Red Cross Trolley ceased in about 1980 and it was abandoned in a back shed.

In 2010 Cleone and Virginia came across various patients who were short of personal items and they wondered where that trolley was and endeavoured to start it up again. 

They enquired with a wardsman and were delighted when it was found, and the service was soon back. 

Naponda Hospital Auxiliary held its inaugural meeting on May 26, 1970 and grew out of the mutual desire of a group of Deniliquin and district women who were keen to do some sort of voluntary work in the community and at the same time enjoy each other’s company.

The group was aware that Deniliquin Hospital needed further support and so their energies were channelled in that direction.

As most of the members were past and future patrons of the maternity section of the hospital, it was this ward plus the children’s ward that was to benefit from the fundraising activities, with items donated such as nursery cots, resuscitation trolley, metric baby scales and a $10,000 donation towards a cardiac monitor.

The group held picnics, gown of the year and gala nights all to raise money to make a difference in people’s lives. 

Naponda is still holding fundraisers, and hopes to see the return of the farmer’s market on the second Saturday of every month once COVID-19 restrictions are eased further.

It also has the Naponda Store in Cressy St, with a 33 per cent contribution from each item sold going towards the Deniliquin Hospital.

‘‘We have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering over the years,’’ Cleone said.