Three Deniliquin Meals on Wheels volunteers with a combined 64 years of service were officially recognised last Wednesday.
Dorothy and Robert Wharton and Pat Smith, who have all since retired from helping the service, were guests of honour at the celebrations.
They were planned specifically to precede National Volunteers Week this week.
The morning tea celebration was attended by local staff and volunteers, and Riverina Murray network support consultant Pam Mulholland.
Mrs Wharton started volunteering for Deniliquin Meals on Wheels in 1998, but she and her husband have been helping the community for far longer as members of the Deniliquin Lions Club.
‘‘I like helping in the community. We have always done volunteer work and always helped out where we can,’’ Mrs Wharton said.
‘‘I also do the hospital papers twice a month and it is just what we can do to help the community and give back.’’
Mr Wharton joined his wife on the Meals on Wheels run three years go.
He filled a gap left open by Mrs Smith when she retired.
‘‘It doesn’t hurt to help and it takes me back to the Scouting days.,’’ he said.
‘‘When Pat retired about three years ago, I took up the position to help my wife.
‘‘I like getting involved in the community and you make a lot of good friends.’’
Mrs Wharton said she too had found many close friends through her volunteer work.
‘‘Pat and I would volunteer together. We both enjoyed helping people who didn’t have anyone to support them,’’ she said.
‘‘We (my husband and I) decided to retire because we got to a stage where it was a bit much for us. But I know we have both enjoyed the experience and fellowship.’’
Now living in Orana, Mrs Smith had been volunteering in the Deniliquin community for more than 40 years.
The 86 year-old said she started volunteering for Meals on Wheels in 1975, but had to retire in 2016 due to illness.
‘‘When I started the children had sort of left home or grown up, so I thought I would give back to the community and do something,’’ she said.
‘‘My favourite part was getting to meet people you wouldn’t normally see; I liked that.
‘‘You would also deliver the meals with another lady and meeting up with her, spending an hour or so going around with her and having a talk was good.’’
Mrs Smith also volunteered at the Deniliquin High School canteen and delivered newspapers at the Deniliquin Hospital.