Margot repays health care, with interest, across 30 years

 Margot Johnson (left) shares the thrill of an award recognising her work as a volunteer at South West Healthcare with director of nursing Julianne Clift.

Margot Johnson (left) shares the thrill of an award recognising her work as a volunteer at South West Healthcare with director of nursing Julianne Clift.

AFTER experiencing kindness first-hand at Warrnambool Base Hospital, Margot Johnson decided she wanted to do something to help. 

That was 30 years ago and today  Mrs Johnson’s face is still a familiar sight in the halls of the hospital.

It’s that commitment to volunteering that earned her a Victorian Health Minister’s Volunteers Award, an annual honour which recognises the countless hours people like Mrs Johnson give to hospitals and health care services across the state. 

Mrs Johnson said the award win capped off an emotional week. She fought back tears as she walked up to collect the award for outstanding achievement by an individual at a regional health service, presented by Health Minister David Davis. 

“I had to tell myself not to cry, I was so overwhelmed. I think my jaw hit the ground when he said my name,” she said. 

Mrs Johnson said she started volunteering at the hospital in 1984 after “the flower ladies” visited her when she was in hospital. 

“I thought that was a lovely idea and when I was well enough I started in that role.

“I’ve held a variety of roles across the years. 

“I’ve helped with administration work, helped get patients from the ward to other appointments in the hospital.”

Mrs Johnson said she was now the community liaison volunteer and helped patients with posting mail and other tasks that may need doing outside the hospital. 

She has also been president of the South West Healthcare Ladies Auxiliary for “many years”.

Director of nursing Julianne Clift said in Mrs Johnson’s time the auxiliary had raised more than $200,000. 

“It’s people like Margot who help keep the hospital running so smoothly,” Ms Clift said. 

“Our volunteers selflessly give up their time to do those essential jobs others don’t have the time to do.” 

Mrs Johnson said she loved the social side of her role and would continue to volunteer for as long as she could. “I came to Australia from England as a £10 Pom and have had a really good life here, so this is something I can do to give back to the community,” she said. 

“It keeps me active and I get to meet people from all walks of life.” 

Portland District Health (PDH) volunteer Ellie Lane was also recognised at the awards presentation in Melbourne. 

Mrs Lane is a member of the PDH consumer advisory committee and safety and risk management committee. 

She has been delivering Meals on Wheels for eight years, a community transport volunteer driver for 18 years and a Telecare volunteer for 28 years.

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