Del and the Lewellyns, our country town girls

Apr 11, 2023

At first, Del thought she didn’t need a friendly visitor. She still had her crafts, gardening, and occasional coffee dates with friends. But Del soon realised that she was getting to the stage where she couldn’t go out in the garden as
much as she used to. She missed talking to people passing by on their daily walks.

Although Del’s daughter and son live with their families in Toowoomba, and come up to Del’s home in Darling Downs when they can, Del was finding herself with more spare time on her own.

Enter an In Great Company friendly visitor volunteer

Julie Llewellyn and her family signed up with In Great Company when they relocated to Darling Downs after 30 years in Brisbane, ready to immerse themselves in a more country way of living.

Julie’s parents provided the family with inspiration and an intrinsic desire to become involved with seniors in the community. Her dad sadly passed away in 2016, and although her mum lived next to them in their granny flat, they saw how lonely
she became.

Having her five grandchildren living next door certainly enriched Julie’s mother’s life, and she was very vocal about how much she enjoyed spending time with them. This feeling was certainly reciprocated by her grandchildren. Unfortunately,
she passed away on Christmas Eve 2021 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.

This left a huge gap in their lives, as they missed the companionship from someone who had so much to share and had such an interest in whatever they did. It left Julie and her daughters, Rhiannah and Shanayah, wanting to get involved in a volunteer
program supporting seniors in the community – but unsure how to begin.

Amazingly, they saw an In Great Company post in their local community Facebook notice board looking for volunteers. They were so excited, they started the application process immediately – they even recruited Julie’s husband Tony to volunteer.

Meeting each other for the first time

Julie and her daughters were matched by our volunteer coordinator Lisa with an amazing lady named Delma (Del). They lined up visits each Saturday morning.

In Del’s words, “Julie Llewellyn is just the loveliest person. You wouldn’t believe it, but Julie said that when she first arrived, she was very nervous to meet me. Then when she heard my voice, that all melted away and we talked
for 2 hours straight!

“She told me that they had recently bought 2 calves, ‘Choco Chip’ and ‘Velvet’. They were calling them “baby cows” but I told them that they are poddy calves!

“They are all such kind, loving and so generous towards me, offering to help if I should ever need it. I am so appreciative of them.”

In Julie’s words, “Del and I clicked from our very first phone call. I was really nervous when I called her, but we just started chatting and surprisingly had lots of things in common. I remember hanging up the phone with the biggest smile
on my face as I knew immediately how lucky I was to have met Del.

“I then visited her the next Saturday, and we spent the entire time talking and it just felt right. My two daughters started coming with me after the first week and really cherish their time with Del.

“Catching up on Saturday mornings is a highlight in our week and our relationship is very special. We know that Del cares a lot for us and hope she realises how important she is to our family.

“Somehow, we feel like my mum has chosen Del to help make our lives complete again.”

Unexpected happy coincidences

Julie always rings Del on the Thursday night to discuss what they are going to do on the Saturday. They might play it by ear, but always chat a lot, do some craft activities if they have time, and of course enjoy some morning tea.

They have all been out for high tea to celebrate Rhiannah’s birthday at Glengallan Homestead and Heritage Centre on the way to Warwick. They also brought Del home to meet their poddy calves.

The Lewellyns love hearing stories about Del’s experiences, particularly from her younger years, when life was so different to today. She also shares her abundant knowledge about farming, which is great for the Lewellyn family, as they are so
new to this lifestyle.

There have been so many interesting coincidences discovered since they have met. The farmhouse the family have just bought was lived in by Del’s primary school friend when she was growing up, so Del had often stayed there for sleepovers. Del
also got married in a little church in Allora which is the same church Shanayah was christened in.

These coincidences reinforce that their friendship was meant to be, and that they are extremely well matched.

A life-changing friendship

The experience has helped put things in perspective for the Lewellyns. Sometimes work or study can become overwhelming, but volunteering has taught them the need to prioritise balance in their lives.

The family has discovered they are more productive when they are happy, which in turn makes them more successful in everything else that they do. Their volunteering activity helps with their mental health which drives their overall wellbeing. Caring
about someone and having that reciprocated provides them with a purpose.

As for Del, her weekends were always much quieter prior to the Lewellyns, but she now has something to look forward to every Saturday morning.

Final messages

From Del: “I have already referred the program to a friend who lives two streets over. I told her that it would be wonderful for her. She goes for cards once a week but doesn’t get out that much else and I think it would be really good for her.
I enjoy the company of my volunteers immensely and she might too.”

From Julie: “We can’t say enough great things about our experience volunteering to date. I share stories with my friends and work colleagues advocating the benefits, and they can see the joy it brings our family. We are much happier having
Del in our lives and would encourage anyone considering this volunteering activity to take the plunge as it will be so enriching.”

If you’d like to become a volunteer with In Great Company and make a senior’s life less lonely, apply here.