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Far West honour for HACC driver

Monday, 10th September, 2018

Far West Volunteer of the Year award winner, David Blows, with CEO for the Centre for Volunteering Gemma Rygate and Mayor Darriea Turley. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Far West Volunteer of the Year award winner, David Blows, with CEO for the Centre for Volunteering Gemma Rygate and Mayor Darriea Turley. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

David Blows’ long service as a bus driver for Home and Community Care has resulted in him being named Senior and Overall Volunteer of the Year for the Far West.

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards recognise the outstanding work of volunteers in every region of the State. With more than 112,000 nominations, the awards have grown to become the biggest event recognising volunteers in the country. 

Mr Blows, who has been working for the Far West Home and Community Care (HACC) Services since 2002, as well as local nursing homes, was recognised as “a stoic and selfless volunteer for so many causes and community groups.”

He said it was an “honour and a privilege” to be selected as the Far West Volunteer of the Year. 

“It’s come as quite a surprise. It’s something you don’t expect. Like all volunteers, you don’t do it for the recognition but rather to help people out,” he said.

Mr Blows, who used to work on mines until 2002, said his enjoyment of driving was another factor that got him into HACC’s Transport service.

“I liked driving but I thought I was too old to drive a Pioneer bus, so to drive a community bus was a lot less time and a lot easier,” he said.

“So I went down and volunteered at the Far West HACC Transport, and I’ve been there ever since.”

He is estimated to have driven the HACC bus more than 1200 times, and driven people to nursing homes more than 300 times as well. 

“I’ve been driving a bus for 17 years, taking people around town to the hospital, to the doctors or wherever they want to go,” said Mr Blows. 

“Making sure they’re happy, that’s the reward you ask.”

Gemma Rygate, CEO at the Centre for Volunteering, said Mr Blows was a very deserving winner. 

“David Blows is a wonderful example of the type of volunteer in the Far West region and he has gone above and beyond his normal everyday volunteering role, in particular over the last twelve months,” she said.

“His family has suffered a catastrophic loss of his son, who died after having minor surgery.

“David has been instrumental in raising over $20,000 for the local hospital to have a scanning machine which will hopefully prevent that kind of tragedy in the future.”

“There were 340 nominations across the Far West, but the panel of judges selected David as someone who was exemplary.”

Mary Leehane, who used to be the manager at the Far West Local Health District, nominated Mr Blows for the award, saying he was an “exceptional individual.”

“He’s a community minded individual with a long history of volunteering. I knew him because he would drive a HACC bus to the local hospital. 

“If you look at volunteering across Australia there’s fewer men than women, so I think we need to celebrate all the men who do volunteer.”

Sue Johnstone, Manager of Community Transport at the Far West HACC Services, said Mr Blows’ award was well deserved.

“He’s a tireless volunteer that has helped deliver thousands of trips for elderly people and those in need in the area,” she said.

“Without that vital assistance, there would be so many people who’d miss out on doctors’ appointments, Centrelink visits and trips around the city.

“I couldn’t count the thousands of kilometres he’s clocked up, but knowing David he would have a book of all that information.”

Everyone’s praise for Mr Blows was echoed by Mayor Darriea Turley.

“David’s always been a shining star in volunteering. His dedication continues throughout his whole life, at a time when most of us are thinking about retiring,” she said.

“Here he is still giving many hours to the community and you can’t help but be inspired by someone who does that.”

Mr Blows will join 20 other regional award winners for the State 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award which will be announced on November 30.

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