Floral farewell for veteran RSPCA volunteer

Retiring RSPCA volunteer Olive Schmidt (left) and fellow volunteer Sandrina Shields at yesterday’s presentation.

Retiring RSPCA volunteer Olive Schmidt (left) and fellow volunteer Sandrina Shields at yesterday’s presentation.

A LOVE of animals was the motivation that prompted Olive Schmidt to volunteer as an assistant at Warrnambool’s RSCPA shop.

Little did she know that it would lead to 10 years at the Fairy Street shop, with the last six as manager.

Yesterday her dedication was rewarded by a presentation of flowers to mark her retirement.

“It has been six days a week — seven if you count coming in on Sundays to do the bins. But I have enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.

The 75-year-old is giving it away due to ill health.

“I have been backing off a bit.”

Mrs Schmidt has worked 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am to noon on Saturdays for all those years, every bit of it voluntary: “Everyone here is a volunteer.”

Fellow worker Sandrina Shields said Mrs Schmidt had been “tireless” in her work.

The RSPCA shop is not the sort of place to often attract the eye of the police, but Mrs Schmidt did once draw their attention when she accidentally locked a customer in.

“I had locked up and gone up to the Cally to put on a few bets. When I came out the police were out the front of the shop wondering how they were going to find someone to open it.”

Mrs Schmidt has lived in Warrnambool since childhood and worked in a number of hotels, including managing the former Grand Hotel which stood on the site of Thomas Jewellers in Liebig Street.

She also had an unsuccessful tilt at politics, standing for the One Nation Party in the seat of Wannon at the 2001 election.

“I polled pretty well but was a long way from getting elected,” she said.

“I was pushing for drug education in primary schools — it’s no use leaving it until secondary school because that’s too late.”

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