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The kind heart behind HammondCare’s lolly cart

Over the last few months, Mr Gallagher turned the garage of his Fern Bay home into a production line to make handmade lolly trolleys — his very own sweet fleet.

<p>Retired carpenter Wayne Gallagher, 67, has used his garage to support HammondCare, providing sugary snacks to residents using his lolly trolleys. (Image courtesy of HammondCare)</p>

Retired carpenter Wayne Gallagher, 67, has used his garage to support HammondCare, providing sugary snacks to residents using his lolly trolleys. (Image courtesy of HammondCare)

The 67 year old sweet-heart used his adept handyman know-how to build eight trolleys, letting other volunteers distribute sweets, such as musk sticks, chocolate, marshmallows, liquorice all sorts, sultana boxes, jelly beans and diabetic delights around HammondCare’s aged care homes.

“I’m pretty proud of how the trolleys turned out, I have to say,” says Mr Gallagher, “[…] I’m pleased to be able to use my skills in this way to help other people.”

Mr Gallagher is one of the 750 HammondCare volunteers who regularly give their time to help the independent charity to improve the quality of life for people in need. Since HammondCare’s beginning in 1932, volunteers have played a central role in its operations.

Initially, he made two trolleys for HammondCare’s Waratah and Cardiff aged care homes, which house many residents living with dementia. Despite only making two at first, HammondCare was so impressed by the craft that six more were ordered for its homes in New South Wales: Woy Woy, Wahroonga, Darlinghurst, Miranda, Horsley and Hammondville facilities.

While costs of materials for the lolly trolleys were covered (for the most part) by a grant from the HammondCare Foundation, all of Wayne’s effort came from the soul, rather than the wallet. 

Wayne started with HammondCare as a volunteer visitor to residents, playing board or card games, going for walks around the gardens, to the aviary, to see the chickens and to Waratah Village for a coffee. Unfortunately, Mr Gallagher had to stop visiting due to health concerns. 

“So it was wonderful to be able to work out a way from my own home to continue to help,” he says, regarding the newfound way to play a part in seeing others smile. 

Volunteer Coordinator Emma Egglestone says the lolly trolleys are versatile with the capacity to switch from carrying lollies to becoming a ‘happy hour’ cart, coffee carrier or an ice cream conveyor — with some locations even offering the iconic ‘Mr Whippy’ jingle. 

“You can see it [joy] in their faces,” says Ms Egglestone.

Whether it’s music and art therapy to one-on-one companionship, HammondCare has something to suit everyone’s volunteering passion, as highlighted through the incredible, awe-inspiring and, fittingly — sweet work, which people like Mr Gallagher do to ensure that the older generation of gold souls go appreciated.

The Volunteering in Australia 2022 report, released by Volunteering Australia last October, found COVID-19 had resulted in a “substantial decline” in participation. The Aged Care Workforce Census of 2020 found the number of volunteers had dropped from 23,537 residential aged care volunteers in 2016 to only 11,980 volunteers providing support at aged care homes at the end of 2020.

The hope is, through the story of Mr Gallagher, potential volunteers will fulfil that ambition and offer people in aged care facilities, such as HammondCare, the time and effort to spend a day in order to make someone’s whole year better.

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