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Community

20 May, 2021

It's all pigs and giggles

FAR North Queensland Hospital Foundation (FNQHF) volunteer Ivor Edwards believes that music and laughter are the best medicine, and he has such an impact on children that they are known to remember him vividly for years after leaving the ward.

By Tanya Murphy

A retired former professional musician, actor and music educator, Ivor now spends most of his days at the hospital entertaining children for free and by all appearances, it’s the absolute best gig of his life!

Mr Edwards has been volunteering at the hospital several hours a day, several days a week, for six years and his favourite activity is involving children and parents in silly musical ensembles involving a ukulele, bongo drums and toy piglets named ‘Pinky’ and ‘Squeaky.’

To mark National Volunteer Week this week (May 17-23), many organisations across Cairns have taken the opportunity to highlight the amazing work done in our community by big-hearted, passionate volunteers like Mr Edwards.

“The FNQHF has more than 960 volunteers registered, including 97 Cairns Hospital volunteers, 257 Friends of the Hospital Foundation volunteers at outlying hospitals, and 616 fundraising volunteers,” said foundation spokesperson Robyn Rankin.

“From assisting patients and visitors find their way around, to fundraising and more, they provide an invaluable service.

“The volunteers work across a huge geographical area from Tully to Weipa and lots of areas in between.”

Volunteering at Cairns Hospital is in its 32nd year and since the Foundation’s inception, it has contributed more than $23 million to improving health care in the Far North.

Tharaa Jose Mampilly, spokesperson for FNQ Volunteers Inc, an agency which matches volunteers with volunteering positions, said they had a membership of nearly 100 not-for-profit organisations representing thousands of volunteers in Cairns, but more were needed.

“At any one point we have over 100 volunteer roles available to fill, and we have roles for everyone, including in health, education, welfare, environment, culture, arts, sport, and more” she said.

“Volunteering is a great opportunity for you to advance your experience and professional skills which can lead to employment.

“It’s also positive for mental health as it’s a great way to get out of the house and meet people and have meaningful social interactions and give back to the community.

“You can volunteer as much or as little as you are able, and we do have some roles that only require one to two hours per week.”

An analysis of FNQ Volunteers Inc in 2020 found 65% of volunteers were female, and the majority of volunteers (45 per cent) were aged over 50, while 33 per cent were aged 30-50 and 22 per cent were younger than 30.

FNQ Volunteers Inc is holding a photographic exhibition featuring photographs of 20 organisations and their hard-working volunteers, on display now at the Cairns Regional Council Foyer.

The exhibition was curated by volunteers from Crate59 Art Collective and the photographers were Jennifer Frei and Mark Bennett.

All the agency’s current volunteering opportunities are advertised at www.fnqvolunteers.org.au


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