Volunteers Week: Patricia’s passion for inclusion

By Emily Newton, 20 May 2019 , Comments

Northcott is privileged to have a committed and dedicated group of more than 100 volunteers across NSW who generously donate their time to assist our customers and staff.

Ranging from school students to retirees, our volunteers provide a wealth of skills, support and smiles. To celebrate all of our volunteers during National Volunteers Week, we are shining a spotlight on a familiar face and dedicated team member from Northcott’s swimming and athletics interschool carnivals, Patricia Ollerenshaw.

When the Baulkham Hills resident was first approached six years ago about volunteering at our interschool carnivals, Patricia jumped at the chance. Now, each carnival race would quite literally not begin without her.

“My ears pricked up when I heard about this and willingly accepted,” she said.

In 2014 and 2015, Patricia was appointed Head Judge and from 2016 she was became the ‘starter’.

“At every swimming and athletic carnival from 2015 to 2018 inclusive, I was the starter for every race and enjoyed every minute, in particular watching the faces of every student who always strive to do their best,” she said.

She fondly remembers beginning her role as a starter with a yellow whistle hanging from her volunteer lanyard, and the playful yet competitive nature of the students.

“As I was about to put the whistle to my mouth, some students created a false start,” she said.

“I was a little confused as it had happened earlier as well. Then I realised the children were watching me as I moved the whistle to my mouth!

“They started off, how enthusiastic they were, before the whistle had even reached my mouth.”

The next year, Patricia brought a black whistle that matched her black shirt, and there were no more false starts from the competitive students.

A true superstar, her volunteer work extends far beyond Northcott’s adaptive carnivals. When she’s not maintaining her beautiful Japanese/Australian garden, you will find her volunteering with The Australian Paralympic Committee, Days for Girls and at times The Japan Foundation.

Presently, Patricia is a volunteer researcher with the Australian Paralympic History project . This includes writing Wikipedia articles that capture the story of the Paralympic Movement.  She says Australia is the first country in the world to write their Paralympic history. Patricia established and maintains the Australian Paralympic Library at Head Office in Sydney Olympic Park where much of the historic research is housed.

With volunteer work keeping her busy, Patricia explains that she continues to support Northcott because she shares Northcott’s goals of equal access and inclusion for people with disability.

“Every opportunity to work with Northcott’s staff and participate in recreational activities with all students increases this goal and my interests in improving the quality of life for people with disability,” she said.

This year, Patricia has returned to once again volunteer at the Northcott interschool carnivals, bringing back her famous black whistle to start the races.

“These recreational activities are designed and organised to provide the students with activities that assist the goal of access and inclusion,” she says.

“Students participate and compete alongside peers of similar ability levels which promotes independence, improved feelings of well-being and self-confidence.

“What a rewarding experience, the students inspire me to give of my best.”

Northcott wishes to extend a warm thank you to Patricia and to all of our volunteers who provide immeasurable support to our customers and staff every year. Thank you!

Related content:

Listen to what volunteering means to some of our volunteers in their own words.

Like Patricia, Charles is one of our regular volunteers. Read why he took the opportunity to support school leavers with disability at Northcott’s Vocational Skills program in Parramatta.

Interested in volunteering with us? Contact us now and let’s see what you can do.

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