Volunteer honoured

Leslie Mather with picture of his late wife Laurette. (Joe Mastroianni). 240420_04

By Alesha Capone

Hoppers Crossing’s Leslie Mather says he doesn’t volunteer for recognition or awards, but because he wants to help people.

The “75 going on 50“ year-old has been a volunteer visitor guide at Footscray Hospital for almost 25 years while also working in the hospital’s Outpatients’ unit for a number of years.

He retired from the job in July last year, but still volunteers at the hospital.

On Monday, Mr Mather was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list, in recognition of his service to community health.

Mr Mather said his parents brought him up to “treat people the way you want to be treated”.

“I just found you get so much back from volunteering, it’s incredible,” he said.

Mr Mather said he first started volunteering after he was made redundant from the Commonwealth Bank at the age of 50, a career in which he managed bank branches in Altona and Footscray.

He is a secretary and convenor of the Westgate Region Prostate Cancer Support Group, which formed after an ISIS (now IPC Health) men’s health awareness breakfast in 1999 and has served in several other health and cancer-related committees and organisations, including on the Victorian and Tasmanian Prostate Cancer Support Group Chapter Council, which comes under the umbrella of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

In 2011, Mr Mather received a Max Gardner Award for Distinguished Service from the foundation.

Mr Mather, who lived in Brooklyn for most of his life before moving to Hoppers Crossing in 1971, said he was grateful that his wider family was supportive of his volunteering.

In recent years, Mr Mather pulled back from some of his volunteer roles to care for his wife Laurette, after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Laurette died on May 7. She and Mr Mather were due to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary later this month.

Mr Mather will be 75 on June 25, but described himself as “75 going on 50”.

“I don’t understand people who say they are bored at home – go out and do some volunteering,” he said.