AN orphan who taught herself to read and write was yesterday named the Murray Region’s senior volunteer of the year.
Joy McGowan yesterday joined Cindy Hutton, Tyler Nixon and members of the Carevan team at the Albury-Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau awards at Albury Council Chambers.
Mrs McGowan, 80, of Albury stole the show with her speech, recalling her tough childhood and the joy volunteering has brought her over 26 years.
“People should never be lonely,” Mrs McGowan told the packed Robert Brown Room.
“I was an orphan who couldn’t read or write.
“I found that I had to teach myself a lot of things and I didn’t know my family — I didn’t know I had a family.
“When I joined Aged Concern, I found I had many friends and they taught me a lot.
“I was always scared of people with titles, then my doctor said to me: ‘Joy, you are as good as anyone else, maybe even better’.”
Corowa’s Mrs Hutton could hardly believe she had been named volunteer of the year.
Mrs Hutton, who is the chairwoman of the Corowa Community Cancer Netowork said she had found volunteering a great way to form friendships.
“It’s a lovely way to make friends and meet people,” she said.
“I don’t do it for the recognition or that kind of thing — I couldn’t believe I’d won.”
Mrs Hutton has worked closely with Cancer Council NSW and has helped raise about $170,000 for Relay for Life.
She is also a regular helper at Corowa Primary School and the town’s Presbyterian church.
The youth winner Mr Nixon, 20, is also from Corowa.
The St John Ambulance volunteer said helping others had been much more than a thankless task.
“We say we do this work without reward or recognition for what we do but every person I think back to has said thank you or at least well done for what I do,” Mr Nixon said.
Carevan took out the team category for the work it does for the Border’s homeless.
Chief executive Jodie Tiernan said the award was recognition for the work of Carevan’s 400 volunteers.