19 May 2020
Three Australian volunteers who have dedicated years of their lives to supporting Australian men and families impacted by prostate cancer have been awarded Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s prestigious annual Max Gardner Award for Distinguished Service.
This year’s winners were Mrs Elizabeth Allen of Dubbo, Mr Kerry White of Inverell, and Mr Wolfgang Schoch of Avondale Heights.
The announcement, made by PCFA’s Chairman Steve Callister, coincides with National Volunteer Week this week.
“Over many years I have had the privilege of seeing the difference volunteers make to our work and can think of no finer recipients of this year’s award. Each of these distinguished Australians have given freely of their time and energy to lead our support groups, raise prostate cancer awareness, and comfort men and families affected by prostate cancer. Their tireless advocacy has changed many lives for the better.”
The theme of National Volunteer Week this year is Changing Communities, Changing Lives. PCFA CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said each of the awardees was an inspiration to others.
“We are tremendously grateful for their meritorious contribution and service. Over many years they have served as a community leader to ensure that men and their partners do not have to walk the journey of prostate cancer alone. They have played a vital role in providing men and their partners with information, comfort, and support, calling on their own personal experiences to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Mrs Allen co-founded the Dubbo Prostate Cancer Support Group in 1996 and is also organising a national Prostate Cancer Support Group conference to be held in the city next year.
“I often say that it is because of the work of community organisations like PCFA, and men and women who volunteer their time, that Australia is the lucky country. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local men and families, having first-hand experience from my husband John’s diagnosis over twenty years ago now. We got through it together, but it wasn’t easy, and I knew that helping others through their own diagnosis would be well worth my time and energy. If I have helped others, then John and I are better for it too – we are all in this together.”
Mr Schoch was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 and became involved in Prostate Melbourne Support Group, which he now leads.
“I am very humbled to be recognised by my fellow Support Group members and by PCFA. The opportunity to serve Prostate Melbourne Support Group has been an honour, allowing me to share my own experience to try and ease the burden of prostate cancer on others. I am proud to play a role in the vision of PCFA to defeat prostate cancer in our lifetime, and to ensure men and their families have the support they need. I have learned over many years that peer support can make a life-changing difference – it is a privilege to be able to assist other men who are confronted by this cruel disease.”
Mr White was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 and helped to form the Inverell Prostate Cancer Support Group, becoming Group Leader and an Ambassador for PCFA.
“I am glad to be able to walk alongside other blokes who have been through a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Being involved in the Inverell Prostate Cancer Support Group has changed my life for the better, allowing me to make a difference. It’s a tough diagnosis, with long-term side effects of treatment that are hard for most of us to manage. None of us can get through this on our own – having the support of organisations like PCFA is vital. I’m pleased I’ve been able to help and am honoured to be recognised by PCFA and my peers.”