Hammondville volunteer named in Queen's Birthday Honours

A 91-year-old Hammondville volunteer who was been serving her community for more than 70 years has been inundated with thanks and appreciation since she was named in this week's Queen's Birthday Honours.

"I feel very humbled, because you know, you don't do it for the recognition," Betty said about receiving the award. Betty Biffin has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, General Division (OAM)  for "service to the community of Liverpool, particularly through contributions to the care of the elderly."

"The years I have been serving our Lord at Hammondville have been a great pleasure and as I long as I can help others I will continue to do it.

"The holding of hands to offer comfort, I love that. And hearing the elderly people reciting the Lord's Prayer is very special - it is something people never forget, because in my day, everyone went to Sunday School.

"Psalm 21 is another favourite, 'I lift up my eyes...'; sharing these moments is all the thanks I want."

Seventy years of service, connection to RBS Hammond

Betty began volunteering in her local community in her teenage years - teaching Sunday School - and in this role has distant memories of hearing Rev Bob Hammond. Her direct involvement with HammondCare dates back to before official volunteering records were kept at Hammondville - but at least since the 1980s. Her late husband Hector also volunteered with HammondCare as a driver.

During this time Betty has visited Hammondville aged care facilities at least once a month where she spends time with residents, praying, reading the Bible or just having a chat.

Betty is known to bring Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gits for the resident she visits and at other times will share gifts of plants from her much-loved garden or blankets from a knitting group.

An outstanding feature of her service has been, up to three times a year, to invite aged care residents from Hammondville to her home for a special morning tea featuring fine china and scones prepared by herself.

What is not widely known is that Betty does not drive, and since the death of her husband Hector, she often relies on public transport to fulfill her volunteering service which might mean catching two buses each way.

HammondCare's head of Volunteer Service's, Barry Costello, congratulated Betty on her OAM and said, "Betty is a wonderful person, very fit for her age, friendly and welcoming all the time and always smiling and quick witted. She is a blessing to all at Hammondville.”

And Hammondville Volunteers Leader, Jennie Reddish, said the award was "fantastic" and "just recognition for someone who has spent her life serving God and others."

Wide community involvement

Apart from her HammondCare volunteering, Betty, with Hector, helped begin Meals on Wheels in the Liverpool area before it was a government funded service and they continued as key volunteers for many years. She is still delivering meals every Friday with her daughter Susanna.

A further example of her kindness and community-mindedness has been to maintain a telephone list of older women who live alone whom she rings several times a week to make sure they are in good health, avoiding the possibility of them suffering alone without contact.

Other areas of volunteering service include work with St Luke's Mother's Union, St Mark's Anglican Church, Liverpool West Primary School and Liverpool Nursing Home

Betty Biffin OAM

Betty's official citation on the Governor General's website reads:

Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division: Mrs Betty BIFFIN - For service to the community of Liverpool, particularly through contributions to the care of the elderly. Volunteer, Hammond Village, HammondCare, since 1987; engaged in telephone support for elderly citizens living alone. President, St Luke's Mothers' Union, Liverpool, 1986-1989; Deanery President, 1992-1998; Member, since 1957. Volunteer, City of Liverpool Meals on Wheel s, since 1980; involved in its establishment. Volunteer, Liverpool Nursing Home, 1988-2005. Volunteer, Liverpool West Public School, 1994-2002. Member, St Mark's Anglican Church, Sadlier, since 1976. Awards/recognition include: Award for her 20 years Outstanding Contribution to Residents and Staff, HammondCare Group, 2011. Officer of the Order of Liverpool, City of Liverpool Bicentenary Awards, 2009. Seniors Award for her services to South Western Sydney, 2007. Living Treasures Award, City of Liverpool, 1999. The City of Liverpool Heritage Award, 1992.