Talk of the Town - - Front Page - JON HOUZET

IT WAS an evening full of trib­utes, tears and fond mem­o­ries as Sun­shine Coast Hospice held a farewell party last week for Zelda El­liott who has re­tired af­ter 21 years of ser­vice to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

El­liott’s work with Hospice goes back to when Sun­shine Coast Hospice was first estab­lished in Port Al­fred in 1997. It was in that year that Gra­ham­stown Hospice was tasked with ex­pand­ing their ser­vices to the sur­round­ing ar­eas and Kathryn Court was em­ployed to es­tab­lish Hospice branches. Af­ter she vis­ited Port Al­fred, var­i­ous vol­un­teers were iden­ti­fied to help start up the branch, in­clud­ing Dr Paul Sch­nell and El­liott, who formed part of the steer­ing com­mit­tee.

El­liott was a ded­i­cated vol­un­teer for seven years be­fore be­com­ing an of­fi­cial staff mem­ber.

Hospice’s first premises were in a shared house in Van der Riet Street. Later, when the staff com­ple­ment grew to in­clude more nurses, a so­cial worker and care work­ers, they moved to Camp­bell Street.

Af­ter a be­quest, Sun­shine Coast Hospice was able to pur­chase their cur­rent premises in Al­fred Road. At the same time, the or­gan­i­sa­tion spread their care to in­clude Ken­ton-on-Sea and Alexan­dria.

Re­flect­ing on Hospice’s his­tory, Gra­ham­stown Hospice ad­min­is­tra­tor Ja­nine Peinke said: “Sun­shine Coast Hospice has grown tremen­dously from those early days. Zelda and her team have demon­strated pas­sion, com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion as they have nav­i­gated var­i­ous chal­lenges in meet­ing the chang­ing needs of the com­mu­ni­ties we serve.”

El­liott was cred­ited for her tire­less work as a fundraiser to se­cure much-needed funds to pro­vide this care.

“One of Zelda’s great­est strengths has been her abil­ity to net­work and nur­ture re­la­tion­ships with fun­ders and vol­un­teers who have been the back­bone of Hospice over the last two decades,” said Hospice com­mit­tee chair­man Terry Har­ris.

Among El­liott’s fundrais­ing ac­com­plish­ments are the Spring Spec­tac­u­lar, which she and her team of vol­un­teers ar­ranged for 18 years; the Tree of Lights event for 21 years; the Hospice 300 Club (also since 1997) and the Hospice shop for the past few years.

El­liott’s du­ties grew from fundrais­ing to that of ad­min­is­tra­tor of Sun­shine Coast Hospice in 2004.

Af­ter the emo­tion-filled trib­utes, Peinke, ac­com­pa­nied by Gra­ham­stown Hospice di­rec­tor Trish Gillies and Sun­shine Coast Hospice fundraiser An­gela Hib­bert, brought some lev­ity to the farewell party by pre­sent­ing some fun awards to El­liott.

Due to El­liott’s close as­so­ci­a­tion with the Bathurst Agri­cul­tural Show over many years, she was pinned with a first-prize rosette for be­ing a “fine spec­i­men”. She also re­ceived an “Os­car” for glitz and glam­our for or­gan­is­ing 18 Spring Spec­tac­u­lars and a badge for judg­ing a beard com­pe­ti­tion at the Bathurst Coun­try Af­fair.

On a more se­ri­ous note, Hospice doc­tor Bar­bara Matthews pre­sented El­liott with the Dame Ce­cily Saun­ders Award for com­pas­sion­ate care.

Last year, El­liott re­ceived the Melvin Jones Fel­low Award from Lions In­ter­na­tional for 20 years of ded­i­cated and hu­man­i­tar­ian ser­vices.

Pic­ture: JON HOUZET

PASS­ING THE MAN­TLE: Sun­shine Coast Hospice fundraiser An­gela Hib­bert, left, was handed ‘the keys to Hospice’ by Zelda El­liott, who re­tired this week af­ter 21 years of ser­vice. Hib­bert has been ap­pointed as new ad­min­is­tra­tor, and El­liott said she could...

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