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Young and old learning from each other

The members at the Southport Branch in Queensland, ranging from their twenties to their nineties in age, are united and inspired by our fundamental principles.

Wednesday October 26, 2016

Annie, Peter and Tamra work together at the Southport Branch.

It's a Wednesday at the Southport Red Cross Branch and the place is buzzing with activity. There is laughter upstairs where a team of trauma teddy enthusiasts are busily stuffing the pre-knitted bears, lovingly preparing them so they can be given to children who could do with a cuddly, teddy-bear hug.

Downstairs, a group of volunteers run the successful and highly regarded mobility equipment hire service, talking to customers to find out their circumstances and supply them with the best possible mobility aide to help them get about their daily lives.

Twenty-seven year old Tamra Barrand is one of the volunteers. She has been helping out for about six months and loves working with the other members, most of whom are aged in their sixties and above.

"They're really nice and have so many different experiences," says Tamra.

"It's just really fascinating listening to stories about their lives and where they've travelled and how they used to be.

"They have a different perspective on life and it's interesting to hear their views, they have so much more experience."

Meanwhile on Tuesdays, 23 year old Annie Cardoz volunteers in the afternoon at the branch's mobility equipment hire service.

"The people at the branch are so supportive. I get such a warm welcome from everyone and we all help each other," says Annie.

"It's infectious, the customers leave happier than when they arrive."

Ninety-one year old Peter Lawrence is the Branch President and says it's been great to have the younger volunteers on board.

"They give that spark and zip, a bit of a different approach to life than some of the other people.

"They've got energy, they are computer literate, they can run up the stairs, use smart phones. I think they're amazing, they've been inspirational."

Peter is equally appreciative of the long serving members.

"You walk in to the Trauma Teddy room on a Wednesday and you've got this group of women whose lives have been rich and full of experience. They come up with new ideas and work together to try new things. It's a good social atmosphere."

The lively and supportive environment could be the reason behind the branch's success. They have over 40 members and the medical equipment hire service raises thousands for Red Cross' everyday work - not to mention the hundreds of trauma teddies the members make.

In addition, the members, regardless of their age, are united by their belief and support of the Red Cross fundamental principles.

Annie, originally from India, says that she will never cease to be a volunteer for Red Cross.

"Even if I went to any other country, I wouldn't leave Red Cross."

Peter says that he uses the principles in his everyday life.

"Once you get to know those principles, it's an addiction."

"In 1943, during World War Two when I served with the Royal Navy, the ship I was on docked in New York. The Red Cross ladies brought us coffee and doughnuts. That was the first time I learnt of the Red Cross.

"But it wasn't until a good 45 years later that I reconnected with the organisation again when I joined the Southport Branch. Now it's under my skin."

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