10 year celebration for Volunteer drivers

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Four volunteer drivers who have each served the Deniliquin community for a decade were last week recognised by Intereach.

Daryl Whateley, Barb Finn, Neville Lester and Barry Macauley all started as volunteer drivers for Community Transport in 2020.

Their contributions to the service were highlighted at a dinner in their honour, held at the Globe Hotel on Wednesday (December 9) and hosted by Intereach CEO Keryn Fox and General Manager Operations Sam Hall.

The drivers each received a personally inscribed drinking glass which included recognition of their 10 years’ service.

It was a special evening for Barb Finn and Daryl Whateley, who have retired from their volunteer roles with Intereach Community Transport.

Barb Finn:
Over the past 10 years Barb has supported Community Transport as a volunteer driver, taking clients on trips for medical appointments, especially to regional centres such as Albury, Shepparton and Bendigo.

Barb admitted that in the early days of her driving it was a challenge “to get up so early”, in particular when a client had to be in Albury by 8am. However, more recently appointment times are set to ensure a driver doesn’t have to start before 6am.

“I used to have the alarm set for 4.30am … but I got used to it,” Barb said.

She is full of praise for the Community Transport service and the way it is administered by Intereach. Vehicles are constantly updated and so are the ‘little things’ like uniforms and badges. Barb also appreciated the training

provided by Intereach which included various courses in first aid, work health and safety, and basic counselling, teaching drivers to “be a good listener”.

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“Intereach always reinforced how valuable we were to them. Being valued was important. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the organisation,”

Barb said. She also appreciates the relationship built up with clients, especially those who she regularly transported to their appointments.

“I made a lot of good friends, so there are many positive memories. This includes the wonderful times when socialising with other volunteers and the Intereach staff; we all got on very well,” she said.

And while Barb appreciates that a Community Transport volunteer needs patience, as there can be long waits while clients attend medical appointments or sometimes undertake small procedures, waiting around was not something she had a problem with. In fact, she would request taking clients who were likely to take quite a while as it allowed Barb to enjoy her passion of ‘op shopping’.

“I love the opportunity shops. There are 23 in Bendigo. I’ve had a wonderful 10 years as a driver and I know every ‘op shop’ in every town,” she said.

Although Barb has retired as a volunteer driver, her community work is far from finished. She has now taken up a position as a volunteer at Deniliquin Hospital so she can continue helping her
fellow citizens.

Daryl Whateley:
Daryl is well known for his service to the local community, in particular with Deniliquin Lions Club and Deniliquin Collector’s Club. In 2010, after retiring from his position with Australia Post in Deniliquin, he decided to volunteer as a Community Transport driver because “I wanted another challenge”.

Over the next decade he mainly drove the town bus, and became the regular driver for the Men’s Group which gathers each Tuesday at Intereach. For many years his life has revolved around this Tuesday commitment – if Daryl and wife Lyn were going away they would leave Wednesday morning or return Monday afternoon, to ensure he was there for the group.

During these days out he told many stories, including about his days at the Post Office, and heard many in return.

“Some of the stories these men told me were quite phenomenal … they were amazing,” Daryl said.

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“When I started with Community Transport I said I would do 10 years, and that’s what I’ve done. I have really enjoyed the camaraderie and being able to serve the community. I met some very interesting people and was able to help some of them get around and make them a bit happier.”

While Daryl has enjoyed his role driving the Men’s Group around, they also have received great benefit from the service he provided.

“I took them to various places that they might not otherwise have been able to see. That was the advantage of being in the bus … they were up high and got a good view.”

Occasionally someone would ask, “what’s down that road?”, and Daryl would go and have a look, even though it might not have been on the original route.

“We worked on the theory, ‘what happens on the bus stays on the bus’. For some in the group, Tuesday was their only outing for the week.”

Like many programs, the men’s group has been suspended during 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and Daryl says he “hopes it starts up again, because it’s a valuable service and good fun”.

While he primarily drove the bus for the Men’s Group, Daryl also volunteered as a Community Transport driver, taking clients to medical appointments in regional centres.

“Community Transport is an excellent service, especially for older people who don’t have family and have to get to appointments in places like Albury or Shepparton. It’s fantastic to have a service like that in Deniliquin. And Intereach has been great to work with,” he said.