Volunteers Allan and Shirley awarded Order of Australia Medals 

Image: Allan and Shirley in their Woodend Rotary uniforms.  

For most of their lives, Allan and Shirley have done everything together. Their lifelong partnership intertwines with work, volunteering and their enthusiasm for travel. Through volunteering, they have travelled across the Pacific to the Soloman Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji with Australian Business Volunteers and other international agencies. 

"Allan found the assignments, but I always went with him. We are the Coles 2 for 1 special," says Shirley. 

Image: Allan and Shirley with the President of the Indigenous Business Council Fiji and his staff 2016. 

Their first ABV assignment was in Vanuatu in 2006, where they helped two small businesses start up. This experience led to their passion for helping small businesses, which continued for the next two decades. In 2017, the Vanuatu Department of Industry asked them to develop a Strategic Plan for the Manufacturing Industry in Vanuatu.  

This project led to further assignments in 2021/22 to create a Manufacturing Standard of best practices for safety and financial reporting to help businesses grow and become legitimate. Since 70% of Vanuatu's income comes from tourism, the region must build resilience against inevitable travel disruptions by developing other core industries. 

Image: Presentation of attendance awards to participants of the Business Training course we ran for the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in 2017. 

When they aren't volunteering, Allan and Shirley have plenty to do on their leafy five acres in Woodend North in the Macedon ranges (70 km from Melbourne). Between gardening and maintenance, Allan loves picking up and trying new musical instruments.  

They have devoted their lives to serving their community. Allan has been a member of Rotary for 33 years, the last 12 with the Rotary Club of Woodend, while Shirley has been a member of the Red Cross for 10 years, with 7 years spent in the Emergency Services; she is also an Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Woodend. 

Currently, they are working on a disaster resilience ABV assignment to help develop a business plan for the Compost Club in East Gippsland.  

"We are taking it slowly, giving the innovator time to make changes. It's a step-by-step process, but we are getting there," says Shirley.  

The Compost Club aims to reduce food waste by providing educational programs about composting and sustainable practices. Building community organizations and small businesses is crucial to creating a more robust local economy more resilient to natural disasters. 

We are grateful to have volunteers like Allan and Shirley in our ABV family. We feel incredibly proud that they recently received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) at the Australia Day Awards.  

Our ABV volunteers have given over 10,444 days of volunteering work during the last four years of our Disaster Recovery programs in NSW and VIC. This is equivalent to more than 41 people working full-time over three years. 

Image: Picture of students outside the new school the Woodend Rotary built in a remote village in Vanuatu. Allan and Shirley travelled to Vanuatu in February for the opening.  

Are you feeling inspired to give back? Whether it's volunteering locally or abroad, your contribution matters. Take the first step today by expressing your interest in volunteering with us at Volunteer - Australian Business Volunteers (abv.org.au)

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