Barbara Hickman puts her feet up after volunteering as secretary at Meals on Wheels for 42 years.
Barbara Hickman puts her feet up after volunteering as secretary at Meals on Wheels for 42 years. Max Fleet

Volunteer farewelled

FOR Barbara Hickman, Meals on Wheels is just like her garden, where you take the good with the bad.

"I love my herbs and my vegetables, and I love my flowering trees - but I don't like the prickles in the grass, I don't like the cobbler's pegs and there is a bit of dead wood," she said.

"But all in all, I love it."

After 42 years of dedication to the community service, which delivers meals to the sick and elderly, Mrs Hickman has decided to hang up her apron and step down from her role as secretary.

"I just thought my time had come," she said.

She first joined Meals on Wheels in 1969 after her predecessor was transferred, and Mrs Hickman had planned to be on the committee only until the next general meeting.

"That was 42 years ago," she says with a smile.

Mrs Hickman said although she did not regret her decision to finish up, she had been very happy in the role and would miss her second family.

"I don't think you do anything for that long unless it's in your heart," she said.

"It's like a family - it's a lovely thing to belong to."

The retired secretary had nothing but praise for her fellow volunteers, alongside whom she has worked closely for many years.

"Everybody who goes there to work, they are all doing good for someone else," she said.

"Every one of them is a good soul."

Mrs Hickman said she had seen many changes within the organisation in the past 42 years - most notably in the number of meals served, from about 120 to more than 1000.

One of her proudest achievements was the opening of the new Meals on Wheels building on Eastgate St about 13 years ago.

"I was on the building committee for that," she said.

The work of Mrs Hickman certainly has not gone unnoticed and the volunteer was pleased when it was announced the Meals on Wheels building on Eastgate St would soon be named the Barbara Hickman Building.

"It was a very well-kept secret," she said.

"I was delightfully stunned - it's really, really lovely."

She may have retired, but Mrs Hickman's face will still be seen around the Meals on Wheels' circles, as she will continue to help collect surplus food from Woolworths and shops around the city.

"I'll still be around," she said.

Mrs Hickman is looking forward to going on more trips to Brisbane to spend time with her first grandchild and family based there.



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