Bert Caddies derives pure joy from giving to others, so much so the 97-year-old has made volunteering his full-time occupation of late.
Last week, however, the Meals on Wheels volunteer gave up his regular delivery route, a job he says was “one of the best things that ever happened” to him.
“There’s real pleasure in giving,” he said.
“You drive up to someone’s house and they’re pleased to see you.
“It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Bert has been volunteering at the charitable program’s Merewether and Mayfield branches three days a week for the past seven years.
He took on this role shortly after his wife Gladys died.
“I was at a loose end and I found this thing that was a perfect fit for me,” he said.
“I like calling on people. Most of them are younger than me but I don’t mind that.”
His own age is not something that worries Bert. In fact, if you ask, he says he still feels eighty.
“Inside I’m the healthiest bloke you’ll meet, but the outside is not so good.”
Other than having a pacemaker inserted a few years ago and the odd skin cancer removed, Bert says he’s as good as can be.
“I walk everywhere while I can,” he said.
“I leave the car at home and get out on foot.”
The kindhearted Novocastrian is also no stranger to hard work, having held several job roles over the years.
As a former RAAF Wireless Air Gunner (WAG), Bert, born Robert Caddies, served in Borneo during World War II.
He was also a self-taught pastry chef, with many fellow volunteers claiming his apple pies were second-to-none.
“I’ve been known to drop some of them off during my rounds too,” Bert said.
“It gives them all a smile.”
It is this generous spirit and accepting attitude that Meals on Wheels’ Merewether branch coordinator Tina Flood says will be sorely missed.
“He’s a one in a million,” she said.
“He’s an inspiration to everyone he comes across.
“He will be thoroughly missed by all his clients, volunteers and staff.
“We wish him nothing but the best.”
Officially handing over his apron this week, Bert offered some advice to younger generations.
“I don’t know if I’m one to give advice, but I’d say be yourself, be kind and accept what happens to you,” he said.
And, what does the grandfather-of-two have planned next?
“I’m going to have a cup of coffee, that’s what I’m doing next,” he said.