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A Life of Volunteering – Alan Collard

Recently for National Volunteer Recognition Week, our association recognised each of our volunteers with a thank you certificate.¬† One of our volunteers reached out to say thank you, and in our conversation, he revealed his volunteering history which is truly amazing.¬† We are very fortunate to have such dedicated and caring people working tirelessly in the background to ensure people living with trigeminal neuralgia are supported.¬† With his permission we are publishing his story of “A Life of Volunteering” to our readers.

Alan Collard lives in Melbourne and has been volunteering with our Association ever since the Melbourne Support Group for Trigeminal Neuralgia was established.

Tell us about your volunteering story.

I have been involved with the Melbourne Support Group since its inception meeting in December
2001, and was appointed honorary Treasurer at the first Support Group meeting in February 2002, under the leadership of our founder & first convenor, the late Joan Thompson, and continue in that role today.
Volunteering has been a big part of my life for the past 30 – 40 years.
I was also awarded (along with Joy) with a “Certificate of Appreciation”¬† in 2004, for our many years of volunteering at our local Uniting Church, by the City of Glen Eira.
I have also been involved with “TreeProject“, a volunteer group “putting trees back on the land”, since 1992, and have sown, raised and planted many “thousands of native seedlings” over the past 30 years, an activity that I continue today. I am a grower, trainer, coordinator, database species photographer, and Life Member of TreeProject, a most rewarding and worthwhile activity in supporting & protecting our environment, for the benefit of our children / grandchildren, and generations to follow.
My volunteering also extends to being a member of a local community “Brass Band” of which I have been a playing member for 57 years, and previous Brass Band memberships for 20 years prior. I learnt to play when I was 7 years old.¬† As a Brass Band member, I have been involved with the RSL for 77 years playing at Anzac Day & Remembrance Day ceremonies, and in the past 20 years playing the Bugle calls at these events. This service was recognised with the presentation of a “plaque” in 2015, at the centenary of Gallipoli.
As noted, volunteering in the community has been a large part of my life.
What did you do in your working life?
I commenced work at 15 in Jan.1955 as a Plumbing apprentice here in Moorabbin, Melbourne, doing general plumbing work, advancing into Heating and Ventilating , then Air Conditioning & Mechanical Services of large Commercial & Industrial projects, working in all aspects of the Company, where I spent my whole working life of 47 years, retiring in 2001.
This is a brief summary of my working life at A.G.Coombs, one of the largest Contractors in its field in Australia.
I am a very loyal & long serving individual in all aspects of my life, having lived in the same house since we married in 1964 (60 years next year)¬† ….¬† ¬†members of our Uniting Church since we married, and as above, worked at the same Company all my working life, a member of 2 Brass Bands before marrying, and a member of my current Band (City of Greater¬†Dandenong) since 1965, and a founding member of the¬†Melbourne TNA Support Group.
My involvement with TNA since 2002 is due to Joy having been diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) in 1987, and then developed TN 1997, and will be treated for both conditions for the rest of her days, and we have continued with the Support Group to help other sufferers that continue to attend the Group.
I am Joy’s official “Carer”, and she is on an “Aged Care Package”, to enable us to stay in our home.
My environmental TreeProject work for over 30 years and ongoing, has been noted earlier.
We have also had a 25 HA bush property in the Strathbogie Ranges since 1976, where we pursue our conservation & environmental activities.
I am country born, and the second youngest of 5 siblings, and we have 3 children & 4 grandchildren.
I am proud to be a “Volunteer”.
Kind regards,
Alan Collard.
Alan’s story shows us what a massive difference just one individual can make.¬† He sets a wonderful example, and I am sure his extended family has gained a wealth of knowledge, love and wisdom from him.
We appreciate not everyone has such drive and commitment to offer so much to the world, but maybe Alan’s story might show that volunteering in any capacity is such a worthwhile and fulfilling activity.¬† Maybe our readers will find this motivating enough to reach out and offer a helping hand in their community.¬† Thank you Alan for sharing your story.
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New Support Group Meeting – Lockyer Valley

Lockyer Valley Inaugural Support Group Meeting

We are delighted to announce that we are launching a new online Support Group Meeting in the Lockyer Valley area.¬† Our new Support Group Leader is Kim O’Donnell – you can read her story here.

Kim has a background in counselling, helps run her family business and deals with the day-to-day challenges of living with and managing Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Kim has worked through the Training Modules created by our Association to support our volunteers who are providing assistance, empathy, advocacy and education within the safety of a Support Group Meeting.

The changes imposed on us all through the two lockdown covid years, has taught us we do not necessarily need to be face to face in the physical world, to support sufferers.  We are utilising technology to enable our sufferers in Regional Areas to be able to connect and feel safe in our online space using the zoom platform and to feel part of our growing community.

The first meeting will be held on October 11th at 10.30am, a few days after our International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day on October 7th when we are lighting up cities around Australia in Teal.  In Brisbane the Victoria Bridge will be lit up on the eve of our day on Oct 6th and on the 7th the Gateway Bridges will look magnificent in Teal.  We had also put in a request to the City of Toowoomba but have not yet received a response.

If you are a Trigeminal Neuralgia Sufferer and live in the Lockyer Valley area or are in a region that as yet is not covered by our current support group network, please contact Kim, join her for her first meeting, allow her to help you in your journey.¬† We know that for many, this is the first step, and you don’t have to be a member to attend.

See you all there – remember

“you are not alone”






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