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Novocastrian splashes past 50 years as volunteer


Alma Parkes is not your average 92-year-old.

For more than five decades, she has been volunteering at the Newcastle Ocean Baths with the Newcastle Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC).

Every Saturday during the warmer months, the PCYC hosts a swimming club and Alma has been an integral part of its success.

“I’ve been coming most Saturdays in the summertime,” she says.

“It is so necessary when you live around the ocean, you should be competent at swimming.”

Alma is concerned that the City of Newcastle’s potential redevelopment of the baths may affect the accessibility of the baths and the swimming club.

The proposed plan includes an overhaul of the pavilions at Merewether and Newcastle ocean baths with a view to establish restaurants, recreational and community facilities, as well as other services.

“Everything you need is here, you’ve got good access, supervision, and a nice, reasonably priced kiosk,” Alma says.

“The only thing it needs is some shade; that’s the only disadvantage, there is little shade for people to sit.”

In 1989, Alma was appointed as Life Governor of the Newcastle PCYC and, in 2014, she was awarded Volunteer of the Year.

She says one of the highlights has been when people with disability come and get involved.

“There was a man years ago, and he’d never walked,” she says.

“He lived with his grandparents and we took him home one day and [another volunteer] walked him to the front door and got him out of the wheelchair and he stood for the first time [they’d] ever seen him standing alone.

“I still feel teary when I think about it.”

Alma plans to continue volunteering for as long as she can.

“While ever I can keep it up, I’ll keep it up,” she says.

“There might be some Saturday afternoons I get home and have a cup of tea and sandwich and put myself to bed and watch TV, but that doesn’t matter.

“I love meeting people and watching the children, it’s lovely to see a small child come in screaming and crying around their mother or fathers’ neck and then seeing them, by the end of the season paddling away.”

The swimming club is on every Saturday up until April 2020.
It costs $8 per family or $4 for a child and a PCYC membership is also required.
Email [email protected] or call 4961 4493 for more information.

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