Man of the People

5 Monday 2022

Well-known St Vincent de Paul Society volunteer Ian Wray from Dubbo has been among the outstanding individuals chosen to be recognised as part of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards. He has taken home the 2022 Orana Senior Volunteer of the Year for his efforts within the Society and beyond.

After a life of working for his own business, Ian found himself retired at 66 and itching for something to do. Wanting to continue working with the community, Ian began volunteering for The Society through the local St Brigid’s Parish.

Now into his seventh year with the Society, Ian has taken up multiple responsibilities to help keep the show running.

“My main work is care and support which is identifying what we can do to assist the people who come to us,” says Ian.

“I run the food pantry as well and I look after the furniture and accommodation for domestic violence survivors. It all comes through Vinnies.”

Care and support provides for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness due to domestic/family violence; leaving prison; loss of employment and difficulty finding employment. Assistance provided can involve rent arrears, furniture and appliances, bonds, clothing and linen and other household goods.

The St Brigid’s Conference has assisted 336 people in the last year in the Dubbo area. Three-quarters of people assisted came due to lack of food. Most people assisted are living in social housing or renting and 39% of people are under housing stress.

Ian is no stranger to wearing different hats to support the community, “I enjoy it! Well, I’d go mad if I wasn’t doing a 12-hour day!”

One of Ian’s volunteer roles involves being a bus driver for a nursing home, “My mum went into a nursing home in her last few weeks of life. When I was over there, I was talking to them and they didn’t have a bus driver for their bus!” Now Ian drives the bus once a fortnight and brings the retirees out for morning tea and lunch.

There are only two priests in Dubbo, so Ian also finds time to help co-run the communion service every Sunday for the St Brigid’s Parish.

He has served for various organisations throughout his life, including the Dubbo Rescue Squad and has worked as an honorary ambulance officer.

Upon being asked how he feels about the award he says, “Overwhelmed and embarrassed, because I’m part of a very small hardworking team.”

“I’ve got people in that group that work as hard as I do. We just do it because we want to do it.”

Ian hopes to inspire a new generation to get involved in the community through volunteering, “Whatever group you choose to work for, you’re working at the ground level with people who really need help. It’s a really big step for those people to come through our doors and ask for help.”

“I walk away and smile sometimes and think, ‘Gee, I really made a difference to that person’s life.’”

As 2022 Orana Senior Volunteer of the Year, Ian has been invited to attend the State Ceremony for the 2022 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards on 8 December.