After 43 years as a loyal Red Cross member and volunteer - exactly half her life - May Dawes retired this month at a celebration surrounded by friends from the Kurri Kurri branch in NSW.
It was a fitting occasion, since the reason May joined the organisation back in 1972 was because she had just moved to the town and had no friends.
"I thought, I have to do something to fill in the time and meet a few people. So I just walked up to the little shop they had on the high street and they invited me to the next meeting," May says.
Now aged 86, she became a well known figure in the town, volunteering at the Red Cross Shop for many years and serving as Kurri Kurri branch president for 14 years. May also held various other positions on the branch executive, including Social Secretary and Treasurer. "I was a jack of all trades but a master of none," she says modestly.
Her fondest memories are of the 'coffee mornings' which the branch hosted once a month for 10 years. They would bus people in from Kurri Kurri hospital and put on sandwiches, cake and tea. A fellow branch member would play the piano and they would sing songs or stage short entertainments.
"I remember it was always so lovely to see the old people form the hospital tapping along to the music. They always enjoyed themselves and so did we," May says.
It was an active branch and the members were tight-knit. They would go on bus tours of the Hunter Valley, sometimes seeing shows or staying overnight at other towns. They also held a variety of fundraising events each year, including fashion parades, Mothers Day luncheons, road shows, cake bakes, raffles and more.
"I enjoyed my years with Red Cross - the coffee mornings, the social life and the friendship.
I'm going to miss being a part of it, but there comes a day when you've got to slow down," May says.
We congratulate May on her 43 years of dedicated service to Red Cross, sharing the spirit of humanity in her community, and wish her every happiness for the future.