IN­SIDE: NA­TIONAL VOL­UN­TEER WEEK SPE­CIAL FEA­TURE

Comment News (Gosnells) - - Front Page - Sara Fitz­patrick

GROW­ING up in Mumbai, Ruby Ea­gle never learned to swim.

She moved to Aus­tralia in 1971 at age 26 and al­though she dove into the Aussie cul­ture, she con­tin­ued to keep both feet firmly on the ground.

So when Ruby be­gan vol­un­teer­ing at AQWA more than 20 years ago, she gained her first glimpse of the many splen­dours that lay be­neath the wa­ter.

“The aquar­ium was a way of me be­ing able to see un­der­wa­ter, other­wise I would never have known what was there and I think that's what AQWA is all about,” Ruby said.

“The man who built it did so be­cause his son couldn't dive and he thought there would be a lot of peo­ple in the world who would not ex­pe­ri­ence this un­der­wa­ter world un­less he built it – and I am one of those peo­ple.”

The 73-year-old re­tired teacher be­came a vol­un­teer to mar­vel at the beauty and won­der of the aquar­ium but also to fill a void.

Hav­ing raised two daugh­ters and car­ing for her sick mother for sev­eral years, she needed a new pur­pose and con­nec­tion.

“AQWA is full of life and ev­ery­one is happy here,” Ruby said.

“The staff are very ded­i­cated peo­ple and it's nice chat­ting and learn­ing – it keeps the mind ac­tive as I get older and keeps me busy and out of mischief.”

But the great­est joy Ruby gains from the task is the chance to give back to the com­mu­nity.

“I came to Aus­tralia all those years ago and peo­ple have wel­comed me and been so kind,” she said. “I have had such a good life here in com­par­i­son to what I would have had in In­dia and I want to give back to Aus­tralia what I have got­ten from it.” A well-loved fix­ture of the aquar­ium, Ruby has earned re­spect and ado­ra­tion from vis­i­tors and staff. Ev­ery week she will “Give a lit­tle. Change a lot”. She feeds ma­rine life in the touch pool, in­tro­duces peo­ple to crea­tures in the tanks and helps chil­dren make badges. Ed­u­ca­tion/dive co­or­di­na­tor Court­ney Wood said Ruby was

“I have had such a good life here in com­par­i­son to what I would have had in In­dia and I want to give back to Aus­tralia what I have got­ten from it.”

self­less, warm and loved by all.

“Ruby has that dif­fer­ent ap­proach: a lot of us here are sci­en­tists, so when we give peo­ple in­for­ma­tion about ocean con­ser­va­tion and ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas, some can find that a lit­tle bit con­fronting,” she said.

“How­ever, when that info comes from Ruby, who is well ed­u­cated on how to ed­u­cate peo­ple and a bit more ma­ture and gen­tle in na­ture – and also doesn't have a paid job here – it comes across that she is do­ing this purely for pas­sion.”

Ruby has also been a Gold Coat Am­bas­sador at Perth Air­port for 15 years, as­sist­ing peo­ple with di­rec­tions and check-in pro­ce­dures, and knits teddy bears for chil­dren in hospi­tal.

She is one of 10 fi­nal­ists in the WA Vol­un­teer of the Year Peo­ple's Choice Awards.

Pic­ture: Mar­tin Ken­nealey www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d481462

Ruby Ea­gle.

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