Colleen Cox laughs easily and often. It is refreshing, it is surprising and it is part of what makes her contribution to Manning Hospital so valuable.
Thousands of patients over 20 years have connected with Colleen in her role as a Pink Ladies volunteer and they know the gift of her kind words and laughter in conversation. The Pink Ladies job description may have changed over two decades – the flower deliveries and morning and afternoon tea are gone - but what remains with kiosk sales and lolly trolley ward rounds is caring and connection.
Colleen is now 70 years old, and laughs as she shares that “she will likely be in here sometime soon!”
Until then it is her intention is to “be that smiling face in a room that is not a nurse.”
Colleen says “conversations and connection are important” and recalls the experience of sharing time with a young man with cancer.
We have a laugh and it creates connection. It’s nice to do that, to help somebody, to be supportive when they are vulnerable.- Colleen Cox
“He was really ill and yet he talked and we shared a lovely conversation about his farm, about what he was doing and then he died the next day.
“I thought, wasn’t it lovely that we were able to have that conversation, to be able to speak with somebody and feel that you had a connection with them.
“There have been many times when you go home and afterwards you will hear they have died. It gives you cause to think - I was just there talking to them, they laughed with us, and now they are gone.”
Colleen is proud of her contribution to the Pink Ladies and knows its fundraising is vital to the hospital.
In the 2017-18 financial year the Pink Ladies spent more than $25,000 on items for the obstetrics, children's and palliative care wards.
“It’s a great thing that we do and we give things they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.”
She laughs when reflecting on the success of the kiosk lolly bar and says she “is amazed by how many lollies we sell!”
”It’s not the kids that are buying the lollies, it is their parents, it’s doctors and nurses. Nothing else we sell compares to lolly sales, it is such a great money maker and gives so much to the hospital.”
Outside of Manning Hospital, Colleen also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, is part of a Kimbriki craft group and operates a beef farm with her husband of 48 years, Darrell Cox. She is busy and happy and says she will continue to do the 30 minute drive to Taree to volunteer for many years to come.
“It’s such a lovely thing to do.”
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