The extraordinary generosity of Goulburn people has never ceased to amaze Sue Hannan.
The departing chairwoman of Goulburn Palliative Care and Oncology Support Group is full of praise for the difference the community has made to the lives of cancer sufferers.
“Most people have been touched by the committee’s work. It’s a very easy charity to work for,” Mrs Hannan said.
“We’ve sold raffle tickets in the mall and people are so willing to buy tickets. It’s only afterwards they ask what the prize is.”
Mrs Hannan stepped down as chair in August, after five years in the role. She was secretary for 22 years before that and was instrumental in starting the fundraising group.
She’s had firsthand experience with the disease, firstly when her husband Peter succumbed to liver cancer in 1989 and then two years ago when son Les, aged just 47, died from a rare and aggressive liver and bowel cancer.
“Peter was one of the first palliative care patients in Goulburn. Jan Turner, a nurse, got it going with the Sisters and she used to sell us raffle tickets to buy a syringe driver to keep patients reasonably pain free and aware,” Mrs Hannan said.
“I couldn’t have looked after Peter at home without palliative care support. He said to our boys before he died how lovely it had been to stay at home. That’s why I wanted to get this going. After Peter died a group of us decided to form a support group to raise money.”
That was 1990. The inaugural committee included the late Val Heffernan, Isabel Heaton, Kevin Snare, Les Dixon, Mrs Hannan and soon after, Jean Reardon.
One of the first functions was a luncheon and fashion parade at the new South Raeburn shearing shed at Breadalbane, which raised $14,000. Many more events followed, including a lunch at the racing club with author William McInnes, open gardens and much more.
“We would have raised a few hundred thousand dollars over the years and some of it was so spontaneous,” Mrs Hannan said.
“One organisation that was folding in Goulburn asked us for our wishlist of equipment and then wrote us a cheque for $24,000. We were gobsmacked.”
Every three years the committee purchases a 4WD for the palliative care nurse to cover the vast distances involved. In the last financial year the group has bought $17,538 worth of equipment to make the lives of cancer sufferers that little bit easier.
“It’s been really rewarding and we’ve bought an awful lot of equipment that is very much needed,” Mrs Hannan said.
Faye Long has been appointed president, while Elaine Hallam has assumed the secretary’s position.