Alison Cooper

IN 1968, Australia was a lot different place than it is now. Our population was around 11 million (today it is 25 million), a new house cost less than $15,000, average income was $7850 and it cost just over a dollar to go to the movies.

It also marks the year that Alison Cooper joined the St John of God hospital auxiliary and now 50 years on, at the age of 83, remains its secretary.

Alison’s time as a volunteer in fact dates back to 1959 when she joined a committee with her late husband Gary to raise funds for the new Mt Alvernia Hospital.

Mt Alvernia became the Mercy Hospital in 1971 and 11 years ago, St John of God, all the time Alison worked tirelessly for the cause, still a member of the Hospital Auxiliary.

Although Alison says some times as a volunteer have been a little tiring she has a lot of great memories.

That is why in 1996, she along with another volunteer and the hospital librarian, started archiving the history of the hospital, its start, through until the current day.

“We’ve had old photos and memorabilia on display at the hospital for a number of special events and I hope one day soon, the archives will be on display for all to see,” Alison said.

St John of God volunteers manager, James Breene said any hospital could not survive without its team of volunteers and Alison has helped to set the bench mark for service and dedication at St John of God.

St John of God Bendigo held a recognition celebration to mark Alison’s 50 years of service yesterday.