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Planting it forward

Tony Hopkins spends most mornings, pruning, weeding, planting and decorating the gardens at Mercy Place Montrose to keep them in shape.
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Mr Hopkins regularly scours op-shops for bits and pieces to decorate his gardens

Since 2013, Mr Hopkins has created fairy gardens to give residents who live with Alzheimer’s disease a unique place to spend their time.

The 81 year old is one of the home’s most valued volunteers, but he has also been a resident for almost 3 years.

His efforts, and those of other volunteers are celebrated at Mercy Health during National Volunteers Week, which is held from 9 – 15 May.

Mr Hopkins regularly scours op-shops for bits and pieces to decorate his gardens, even going as far as purchasing the plants with his own money.

“I get a lot of joy from volunteering at the home and creating the fairy gardens,” Mr Hopkins says.

“My wife was a resident here and she had Alzheimer’s. I have created the gardens so other residents who live with the disease have a beautiful space to enjoy.

“A lot of effort goes into my gardens and I enjoy every second of it. I want the residents to get as much enjoyment from them as I’ve had creating them,” he says.

Mercy Place Montrose Manager Janine Powell says the home is lucky to have Mr Hopkins as a resident and one of its most valued volunteers.

“Gardens are just one of Tony’s volunteering ventures. He takes every opportunity to give to those in need,” Ms Powell says.

“He’s everything from the Easter Bunny to Father Christmas and even a green leprechaun on St Patrick’s Day. Tony always volunteers for every initiative, and has even coloured his hair and beard for the World’s Greatest Shave.

“Volunteers are a valued part of the Mercy Place Montrose community – we’re lucky to have people come into the home and take part in activities and spend time with residents. It takes a very special person to be a volunteer, and Tony is a fantastic example of what it means to be a volunteer today.”

National Volunteer Week is the largest celebration of volunteers and volunteerism in Australia, providing an opportunity to highlight the role volunteers play in our communities and to give thanks to the 6 million Australians who donate their time each year.

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