This National Volunteer Week, we celebrate Narrogin residents Ann McLeish and Gary Griffiths who have made a world of difference to rural and remote communities across Western Australia by supporting the RFDS.
For more than a decade, Ann and Gary have dedicated their retirement to supporting the Royal Flying Doctor Service, raising a whopping $166,000 since 2008 to ensure a ‘mantle of safety’ for those living, working and travelling across the state.
Ann said supporting the Flying Doctor is a family effort, with her husband and daughter clocking hundreds of thousands of kilometres collectively as they pick up and drop off donation tins at Lake King, Mount Barker, Brookton, Albany and Esperance.
“I’m the navigator and Gary’s the driver,” Ann chuckled.
“We’re always on the road doing our bit; rattling tins at the speedway, football games, netball games, quiz nights and I also represent the RFDS at fundraising events or raffles.”
Ann, a 2011 Spirit of the West Award recipient, is a regular fixture at rural community events across the Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Esperance regions.
You can typically find her front and centre at the gates, rattling tins in support. Most recently, Ann and her brother stood at the gates of the 2019 Wagin Woolorama and raised $5,145 over two days.
Ann said a particular highlight is having people from all walks of life stop by to share their Flying Doctor stories with her, with one friend even passing her a jar which was jam packed with coins he’d saved over the year.
“Just in my family alone, my brother, my son and my granddaughter have had to use the RFDS,” she said.
“Narrogin residents and people living out in rural and remote communities rely heavily on the Royal Flying Doctor Service to access the health care we need.
“The community support and gratitude has been overwhelming and I’m very proud to represent such an important service.”
RFDS Western Operations CEO Rebecca Tomkinson said National Volunteer Week was a great opportunity to showcase the stories of people who are the passion behind the service.
“At the Royal Flying Doctor Service, we know first-hand the enormous impact volunteers like Ann and Gary have in creating change and outcomes in our communities,” she said.
“We are proud to have local ambassadors like them – they are truly priceless and the value of their efforts, passion and commitment to volunteering can’t be underestimated. I’m sure they inspire everyone they meet.
“On behalf of our staff and patients, I sincerely thank and acknowledge all our auxiliaries and fundraising groups across the state. Backed by generations of community support, we have been able to deliver our life-saving services far and wide across our vast state to benefit all West Australians.”