National Volunteer Week will be celebrated across Australia from May 18-24. At Vision Australia, we're fortunate to be supported by amazing and dedicated volunteers across and we want to share their stories with you.
Vision Australia would not be the organisation it is without volunteers like Andrew Gilmour.
Andrew is 94 years of age and this year marks 35 years as a Vision Australia volunteer. Across that time, Andrew has narrated audio books and contributed heavily to Vision Australia Radio, formerly known as 3RPH.
More recently, Andrew has been a Vision Australia Audio describer.
Andrew was drawn to volunteering by a desire to help people.
“I was a child in the great depression. It was borne in on us very much by our parents that we had a duty to help people who weren’t as well off as we were. We would regularly donate clothes to the poor box,” he said.
“I was working on the television series All the Rivers Run with Bud Tingwell and he said with a voice like mine I should be doing talking books. So I started doing talking books. Then a bit later on he rang and said do you want to be on 3RPH.”
Andrew has continued using his voice to support the blind and low vision community as an audio describer. In this role he helps people access and enjoy plays, operas and other art forms.
“Marjorie West had seen [audio description] in action in America and she got the Lions Club to sponsor the equipment which they did. I was in the first group who trained and we went from describing plays, to opera to ballets,” Andrew said.
“I’m mad about opera so I have a fair number of operas. It’s hard work it really is, it takes a lot of time. By the time you’ve seen the performance three or four times it really is hard work.”
Despite this, Andrew said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think the nicest experience is the feeling that you’ve been able to share your enthusiasm for the theatre, ballet or opera with someone else,” he said.
“It’s given me a lot of unexpected pleasure and satisfaction, the satisfaction that comes from learning a new skill. Learning is always a good thing.”
After 35 years, Andrew had some advice for anyone who is new to volunteering with Vision Australia.
“When you volunteer, do it with your whole heart.”
To find out how to become a Vision Australia volunteer, follow this link.