Driver co-ordinator steps down but still helping out

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After a decade of co-ordinating volunteer drivers for the Cancer Society in Dunedin, Valda Gardiner has stepped down from the role.
About 60 volunteers provide transport for cancer patients in the greater Dunedin area, driving them to hospital appointments and other treatments as needed.
Mrs Gardiner (70), who has herself been a volunteer driver for 30 years, took over the co-ordinator’s role from her father, Ivan Wood, 10 years ago.
She decided to retire as co-ordinator in December, but remains a driver and also continues to volunteer with the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Patrol.
“Being the volunteer driver co-ordinator was very busy and also very rewarding,” Mrs Gardiner said.
“It is a nice feeling to be helping people out, and the patients have always been very grateful for the support,” she said.
“The volunteer drivers are providing an absolutely vital service.”
Cancer Society Otago-Southland chief executive officer Rachael Hart said the Driving Service was a crucial part of the society’s Supportive Care programme, which provided practical help to people affected by cancer.
“Valda’s long commitment has enabled many people to access care,” she said.
Last year, Cancer Society volunteer drivers travelled more than 20,000km and enabled 1000 people in Dunedin to get to appointments at the hospital, Ms Hart said.
Their efforts were supported by people from all walks of life, who provided diverse assistance, from visiting people affected by cancer to cooking meals, sewing quilts and picking up children from school.
“It’s this kind of dedication that gets to the heart of who we are as a southern organisation, where people are motivated by a passion for helping others.”
Mrs Gardiner said there was always a need for more volunteer drivers across Dunedin, and urged anyone who was interested to sign up.
For more information, contact the Cancer Society, phone 477-7447 or email admin@cansoc.org.nz.