Fred Smith has been inducted into the Member of the Order of St John after volunteering for more than a decade in Bundaberg.
He said the exclusive honour has only been given to 28,000 people worldwide and is capped at 35,000 members in total.
It came as a complete surprise to the humble and hard-working Fred who volunteered as a driver, and most importantly a companion, to St John's clients between 2007 and 2019.
“There are plenty of other volunteers in this organisation that do the same work as I do,” Fred said.
“But I'm very pleased to receive it. It was it was nice to know that I'd been recognised for doing the work that I did.”
He said he thoroughly enjoyed the work he did for St John.
“Sometimes I was the only person that they would see, especially widows,” he said.
“I was like a buddy to them. They would always smile when you came; I think it made them feel wanted.
“And they’d always say, ‘oh, there's someone worse off than me’, you know they were really marvellous people.”
After 12 years of dedicated service which saw Fred receive the Member of the Order of St John, he gave up his volunteer position to become a full-time carer for his wife.
“I stayed as long as I could,” he said.
“I enjoyed the camaraderie between the volunteers.
“They're just really good people, volunteers.
“It doesn't matter where you volunteer, you’ve got to have it in you to be able to do it too.”
Fred sought out the volunteer position after retiring from 30 years’ service in fire and rescue.
“I said [to my wife] ‘I feel guilty, not doing anything’ and I said ‘I'm going to go and do a bit of volunteering’.
“And my wife also said ‘oh, that's a good idea, she said ‘I might do something too’.
“So she joined a choir and she used to go to the nursing homes, with the choir playing the piano and singing.
“So this is on behalf of her as well.”
Fred was inducted as a Member of the Order of St John on Tuesday, 17 November.
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