When 73-year-old Roy Gardiner stood up at parliament recently to receive an award for his volunteer work he was overcome by emotion – he couldn't believe he was being singled out for something that came naturally to him.
It might have been natural for the humble Papamoa man but the staff and residents at Somervale Metlifecare Retirement Village in Mount Maunganui, where Roy is a daily visitor to his wife Gloria, think he is something quite special.
Roy won a 2017 Minister of Health Volunteer Award in the health care provider service category.
He was nominated by both staff and residents at the retirement village, the peer support of which stood out in the eyes of the judges.
Somervale care manager Sharon Owen accompanied Roy to Wellington to receive his award.
“He cried when he received his award. He said ‘things like this just don't happen to people like me.' It was quite emotional and absolutely fantastic for him to be part of that.”
Roy agrees. “It was marvellous.”
Roy's wife Gloria moved into Somervale in 2014. He visits her twice a day, every day.
As well as helping her with everyday tasks, Roy helps other residents too and lends a hand to staff when needed, moving furniture, serving morning tea, helping with dishes and getting involved in fundraising activities.
“I don't think it's anything major. I try to help where I can. I've always done dishes but I'm no cook, that's for sure.”
He regularly turns up with treats on special occasions – including morning tea for everyone to celebrate his award. His particular claim to fame is organising for a chef to come in and cook for staff last year so they could sit down and enjoy the bacon and egg breakfast at the monthly residents' meeting.
“A very close friend of mine used to be the chef at Imbibe so I thought it would be nice for him to come in so the staff that normally do the cooking could sit back and have it done for them,” says Roy.
Sharon says Roy is ‘family' at Somervale and for Roy, the feeling is mutual. “I have the utmost respect for Somervale and all of its staff.”