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Volunteer Judith still loves driving clients, 15 years on

By September 1, 2022September 4th, 2022No Comments

By Jan Richards

There are many things volunteer driver Judith Bidstrup cares deeply about but only her love of the Brisbane Lions is on par with what she feels for Bloomhill. Passion was in her voice when she spoke of clients she chauffeured to appointments during 15 years as a volunteer in Bloomhill’s transport service.

She began volunteering for Bloomhill with her late husband, Len.

“We retired here in 2005 then settled my mother here,” Judith said. “We met friends who do volunteer work and saw an ad saying Bloomhill was looking for volunteers. We spoke to [former People Lead] Alex and straight away she signed us up.

“Len and I always worked together as a team. We did a lot of driving to Brisbane taking people to appointments. When they were long appointments we would take food and go to a park. We’d get the client to ring us half an hour before they would be ready to go.”

Judith said that she and Len, who passed away in 2015 from leukaemia, wanted to volunteer with a company involved with cancer.

“I’ve had breast cancer. We wanted to support cancer care that’s why we chose Bloomhill,” Judith said.

Female driver leans against car

Since Len passed away Judith restricts her driving to appointments on the coast.

“I drive whenever they need me,” she said.

Judith still enjoys her volunteering work.

“I never do a drive where I don’t have a conversation with a client. I never pry into their personal life, I let them run the conversation. And I quite often get return clients.”

But driving for Bloomhill does have to fit in with her hobbies – the AFL, her walking group; regular lunch dates… Judith is a busy woman.

Judith’s own cancer journey began 25 years ago.

“I was lying in bed reading a book and all of a sudden I felt a lump,” she said. “The next day I went to the doctor and he rang back that night to say there was a tumour in my breast.

“The next day the tumour was removed, but cells had pierced the outside and a week later they did a partial mastectomy and removed the lymph nodes.

“I only had three rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation, in Melbourne at the Peter McCallum Hospital.”

There has been no recurrence, she said. Cancer is in Judith’s family with breast cancer affecting her eldest sister and her mother, who died from breast cancer at 100 years of age just six months ago, and a younger sister who died of bowel cancer.

As well as driving for Bloomhill in past years Judith has worked at the Bloomhill race day at Corbould Park selling raffle tickets and during the Christmas and Easter Fairs at the Buderim War Memorial Hall selling Faye’s jams and cakes.

She also frequents the Bloomhill café with a group of friends who meet for coffee and cake every few weeks and sit in their special table in the corner.

Judith’s activities were drastically curtailed during May when she caught first COVID-19, then the flu, then COVID again. Judith was fully vaccinated and boosted yet WAS still unwell for several weeks.

“I was at the footy Saturday then on Sunday it hit me for six,” she said. “I’ve never experienced flu like it – my eyes and my nose were running and there were gremlins in throat, I couldn’t stop coughing.”

When she’s well, as well as her driving duties Judith can be found at the Cotton Tree Markets most Sundays volunteering as Bloomhill’s COVID marshal.

“I like working at the markets. I always make an effort to wave to the stallholders and have a chat. One lady I mind her stall while she runs across to the loo!”

For Judith her volunteering at Bloomhill is all about the people.

“I enjoy working for them, I love it. I enjoy all the people I meet driving and the experiences I have with them.”

Judith said when she was at Bloomhill, for a regular coffee chat or for work, she said hello to people.

“When I get back from a drive before 4pm I make an effort to go in and talk to ladies on front desk. I know a couple of the ladies who do treatments and if I see them I say hello.”

Meantime, when Judith’s not driving clients, catching up with friends, organising Heart Foundation walks, going to Pilates and Rotary meetings or any of her other activities, she’s supporting the Brisbane Lions.

“They’re doing fantastic this year; they’re second on the ladder. I’m a Platinum member of Brisbane Lions, and I’m on the committee, I’ve been with them 15 years. I coordinate the bus for home games. We pick people up, take them to the game then bring them back. Sometimes we don’t get home until a quarter to one!”

She is certainly someone Bloomhill can count on to fill a last-minute call to drive a client to an appointment, but don’t ask her on game day!

To volunteer with Bloomhill Cancer Care, visit bloomhill.com.au/get-involved/volunteering/

Written: Jan Richards. Published: Nicky Moffat, 4 September, 2022.