City of Newcastle celebrates contribution of dedicated volunteers

20 May 2022

More than 300 City of Newcastle volunteers have been recognised for their invaluable contribution to the community as part of National Volunteer Week.

Volunteers were treated to a special morning tea at Fort Scratchley in appreciation of the countless hours they've dedicated to the city over the past 12 months.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said City of Newcastle was fortunate to have hundreds of selfless volunteers who contribute immensely to building and strengthening the community.

"On the behalf of the City of Newcastle, I'd like to thank all of our volunteers for their incredible contributions to our city," Cr Clausen said.

"Today is about recognising and acknowledging the work they do across Newcastle, whether they are helping out at our facilities, assisting at events, sharing their expertise on a community group or committee, or caring for our precious native wildlife and the natural environment, they each positively contribute to our community.

"The theme for National Volunteer Week 2022 is ‘better together’ and this certainly rings true in Newcastle as we work together for the betterment of our community."

Volunteers from all walks of life lend their time, skills, and passion at City of Newcastle facilities and various locations across the city including Newcastle Libraries, Newcastle Museum, Newcastle Art Gallery, Fort Scratchley, Civic Playhouse and Landcare sites.

They provide much-needed support to ensure the success of major events such as the New Annual festival and contribute their knowledge and expertise to countless committees and community groups throughout the year.

Among those who attended the morning tea was Ron Stanton, who swapped his newfound retirement in 2014 for volunteer guide work at Newcastle Art Gallery.

"Frankly, I knew very little about art when I started out as a guide seven years ago, but I had a curiosity to learn more about art and the opportunity presented itself," Mr Stanton said.

"The personal reward has been in learning and then guiding visitors on their own voyage of art appreciation and discovery.

"I'm part of an extraordinary team of fellow volunteer guides and with the closure of the Art Gallery during the expansion, we are continuing to meet, learn, plan, explore social media pathways and prepare for the re-opening.

"The first volunteer guides started at Newcastle Art Gallery 50 years ago. The expansion presents a new chapter and fresh opportunity for volunteer guides, the city and, most importantly, for the visitor. It's nice to be able to be a part of that."

For Blackbutt Reserve kiosk volunteer Sue Milles, what started out as a six-week trial has turned into 26 years of service caring for wildlife and providing assistance to visitors.

"A love of animals brought me to Blackbutt Reserve and I fell in love with the place instantly. I was recovering from a serious illness at the time and it gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning," Mrs Milles said.

"I started out feeding animals, weeding gardens, cleaning animal enclosures and now I man the kiosk two-days per week and get to talk to visitors about the wildlife at the reserve and share information on feeding times etc.

"It's wonderful to see tourists starting to return since the start of the pandemic, particularly international tourists. Yesterday I was chatting to a couple from England and a man from Poland, I just love who I get to meet whilst volunteering."

Expressions of interest can be registered for new volunteering opportunities on City of Newcastle's website.