Vice-regal reception for Calvary volunteers in Tasmania

Its not often you get to celebrate your 21st birthday with a vice-regal reception at Government House but that was the case this week for the dedicated volunteers at Calvary’s Lenah Valley and St John’s hospitals.

About 70 of the volunteers celebrated in style when they met with the Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC and Emeritus Professor Don Chalmers AO on Tuesday evening, 21 February 2023.

General Manager of Calvary Hobart, Marcus DiMartino, said the 20th anniversary milestone celebrations were delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “So this year is a chance to celebrate and express our profound gratitude for the donation of our volunteers’ time and talents.”

“Our volunteering program officially started off in 2002 when six volunteers answered an advertisement in a local newspaper. Today we have 66 active volunteers, the eldest is 84 years of age.

Our volunteers give their time and skills in so many different ways to help others. They do so many little extra things that make a difference for our patients and visitors,”

Mr DiMartino said.

From friendly faces at the front door, helping people find their way, giving a hand massage while patients undergo chemotherapy, to undertaking patient surveys at the bedside, volunteers assist in a range of roles at Calvary’s two Hobart hospitals.

Three-generations of volunteers

Three generations of the Perrin family give up their Saturday afternoons to play board games with patients in the Calvary St John’s rehabilitation ward.


Three generations of the Perrin family volunteer their time – Charlotte Perrin, centre, grandmother Rosalie, left, and mum Leah

Three generations of the Perrin family volunteer their time – Charlotte Perrin, centre, grandmother Rosalie, left, and mum Leah

Then aged 17, Charlotte wanted to test the waters of a future career by volunteering in a health setting. Not officially old enough to go solo, Charlotte first teamed up with her grandmother Rosalie, and then mum Leah joined in when Rosalie couldn’t. Nowadays, Charlotte is studying nursing and at least two of the three family members attend each weekend.

“I just enjoy it,” says Leah, nominating Scrabble as a patient favourite. “I enjoy meeting the different patients and having a chat. They seem to enjoy the chance to be out of their rooms, and it seems to make a difference for them.”

Calvary’s eldest volunteer

At almost 84, Brenda Boyle is the eldest volunteer. The former long-time Calvary staff member is now Calvary Hobart’s lead archivist.

“Brenda actually retired in 2001 but she still hasn’t left the building,” quips colleague and Volunteer Manager, Carolyn Whamond. “She’s amazing.”

Brenda was 17 when she started as a mothercraft nurse, assisting midwives and nurses on the maternity and children’s wards. She later took on administrative duties on the wards.

She didn’t know anything about being an archivist but that didn’t stop her when asked. “I remember going up to the room on the fourth floor and there was lots and lots of books and loads of dust and what seemed like thousands of photos. There was a lot of history there.”

Two decades later, she is still coming in every Wednesday to work on the archives. “I suppose it’s been my second home in some ways. Helping to preserve the history has been my opportunity to give back all that Calvary had given to me all those years.”

Like many volunteers, Brenda says she gets as much from the experience as she gives.

“Oh yes, twice over!” she declares.