Firm friendships celebrated on International Day

21 Jul 2022

By The Record

International Day of Friendship on Saturday 30 July will have a special meaning for Hamersley resident Alan Williams and Kingsley local George Wakelin. Photo: Supplied.

International Day of Friendship on Saturday 30 July will have special meaning for two volunteers who donate hours of their time to enrich the lives of seniors every week.

Hamersley resident Alan Williams and Kingsley local George Wakelin met when they started volunteering at the same aged care home every week over 10 years ago, and they’ve been firm friends ever since.

The pair now visit Mercy Place Edgewater every Thursday, where they socialise with residents, accompany them on walks in the garden and help with various activities, including morning exercises.

“I became a volunteer in aged care when I lost my wife more than 13 years ago, and I really wanted to do something worthwhile and meaningful,” says 76-year-old Alan.

“I found that it’s a wonderful thing to do, in fact it’s been one of the best moves I’ve made in my life.

“Making a difference to someone’s day is extremely rewarding, and I’ve been very lucky to have make a firm friend in George, in the process.”

As a result of getting to know each other, the pair, who are both born and bred Englishman, with George hailing from London and Alan from Liverpool, catch up and socialise outside of their voluntary work, which they say has undoubtedly enhanced their lives.

“It is wonderful to be able to spend time with the older generation who have so much learned wisdom and have had so many interesting life experiences,” says George.

“I really enjoy spending time at Mercy Place Edgewater, and of course I enjoy seeing Alan each week too, we have lots in common and making a good friend as a result of my volunteering has just been the icing on the cake.”

Mercy Place Edgewater Service Manager, Pammy Singh, says everyone at the not-for-profit home values George and Alan’s contribution to its residents and community, and were also delighted that they had developed a significant friendship over the years.

“We are very fortunate that Alan and George have chosen to volunteer at Mercy Place Edgewater, and in the time that they have been with us have built up a great rapport with individual residents which has certainly brought them great joy,” she says.

“Strong relationships are so important to peoples’ lives and we know that having passionate volunteers and staff in aged care homes who bring a sense of ‘togetherness’ makes a significant contribution to the quality of life of those in our care.

“Clearly George and Alan are very good friends and that friendship is reflected in the strong bonds they’ve formed with our residents, all of which adds to the close-knit community we have at Edgewater, where seniors genuinely enjoy each other’s company and friendships flourish.”

International Day of Friendship is a United Nations day that promotes the role that friendship plays in promoting peace in many cultures.  It is observed on July 30 each year.

Mercy Health is a Catholic not-for-profit provider of care, founded by the Sisters of Mercy and grounded in a 2000-year tradition of caring for those in need.  The organisation provides health and aged care services throughout Victoria, southern New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. 

In Western Australia, the organisation cares for more than 300 people across five residential aged care homes, with 78 retirement living units.