Lifelong volunteer is all hugs and cuddles

An 85-year-old clown who regularly visits a Tamworth facility is just one of thousands of people who will be celebrating National Volunteer Week this week.

Together, Ivan Hatch (left) and Tom Varcoe are ‘Cuddles and Hugs’.

At the age of 85 Tom is living proof that volunteering can be a lifelong passion.

For 13 years he has made up half of the ‘Cuddles and Hugs’ clown duo at UnitingCare Ageing’s McKay House Aged Care Facility in the Tamworth, NSW.

Tom was inspired to take on the role when his wife moved into the home and continues today, even though she died six years ago.

Every Monday Tom and fellow volunteer Ivan put on their colouful costumes to visit the facility, handing out ice creams.

When he’s not in fancy dress, Tom visits three or four other days each week to help out wherever he can, whether that means assisting with games of bowls and bingo or cleaning the home’s fish tank.

“I get a lot of satisfaction helping people and the company is terrific,” he says.

“I’m 85 and if I didn’t go there, I’d just be sitting around the house – it’s about putting yourself out there and keeping active.”

Tom is just one of 3,000 volunteers supporting people in need through UnitingCare NSW.ACT.

National Volunteer Week runs from Monday runs from Monday 11 to Sunday 17 May 2009.

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