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Celebrating National Volunteer Week in Toowoomba
The Annual Mayoral Volunteer Thank-you function was held recently during National Volunteer Week to thank and acknowledge the volunteers of Toowoomba Regional Council for the valuable contributions they make to the region.
Approximately 400 volunteers attended this year’s event held at the Jondaryan Woolshed. A number of activities entertained volunteers including horse and cart rides, train rides, tours of the Woolshed, black smithing demonstrations and the bush band “Band-o-coots".
John Eggleston: A lifetime of service
One Jondaryan Woolshed volunteer was honoured at the event, John Eggleston, having served the organisation for over 40 years.
Built between 1859 and 1861, the Woolshed is famous for its Open Air Museum and Festival of the Golden Shears.
John became involved with the Woolshed right from its re-birth in 1973 when it was used to run a gala ball commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Jondaryan school.
During his life John has been many things and done many things, never one to be a part of the main stream, he has had a lifelong passion for history. Right from the first moment that Lawrie Rutledge gifted the Woolshed and 12 acres of land to the people of Queensland, John has served as the honorary historian. He was on the first board of directors along with Corry Werth and Roy Grundy and others who still come every week or so to volunteer their skills and knowledge in order to continue the work of keeping the history of the Woolshed and the district alive.
Since 2012 John has volunteered every single day (save for Christmas and Boxing day which he spends with his family) tending the plants and animals, fixing broken pumps and pipes, beautifying the grounds, conducting tours for young and old as well as answering the many requests for information about ancestors from people who have attachments to this historic place going back to the earliest times of settlement on the Downs.
In the last few years, John has taken on the construction of a magnificent water area adjacent to the Jondaryan Woolshed café. He designed it, harvested the rocks from the plains near Formartin and with the help of other volunteers, dug the water way and pitched the rocks, built the gardens and landscaped the whole area to the standard it is today. This is a work in progress which, when finished will provide a botanical wonderland of native plants and trees for visitors to walk through or take some time to rest in while visiting the Woolshed.
The significant impact of Toowoomba Regional Council volunteers
Toowoomba Regional Council has almost 600 volunteers that work across a variety of programs, including:
- The delivery of library books to the homebound
- Assisting people from non-English speaking backgrounds to learn how to read and write English
- Meet and greet visitors to art galleries
- Provide valuable information to visitors at the Visitor Information Centres
- Volunteers also participate on Council Advisory committees that provide Council with information, advice and direction on a range of issues including those relating to access and equity, young people and heritage.
In addition, Council also works closely with up to 20 organisations that utilise volunteers to support the maintenance of facilities and events, including:
- “Friends of” Groups such as Escarpment Parks, Yarraman Creek and Peacehaven Park providing support with conservation and maintenance activities
- Friends of Empire Theatre providing assistance at events and functions
- Jondaryan Woolshed volunteers, like John, who provide valuable assistance with maintaining and supporting its activities.
Picture: John Eggleston (left) and Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio. Courtesy of Jondaryan Woolshed.