A lift and a laugh make a difference

June 21, 2024 BY

Flying on four wheels: Heathcote Royal Flying Doctor Service Community Transport volunteer, Mark Jeavons outside Heathcote Hospital. Photo: STEVE WOMERSLEY

ROYAL Flying Doctor Service Community Transport volunteer Mark Jeavons was moved to tears at the end of one of his first shifts.

He had just taken a woman who was undergoing daily cancer treatment to Bendigo.

“When I dropped her off, she thanked me and said that because of the community transport she would be able to eat that night,” Mr Jeavons said.

“The cost of commercial transport to and from Bendigo each day would far exceed her pension and by us taking her to appointments she would be able to purchase food.

“I was humbled but I slept well that night knowing my efforts as a volunteer were making a difference.

“That’s why I continue to do it.”

Mr Jeavons has been volunteering two days each week with the Royal Flying Doctors Community Transport for five years.

“There’s a great reward at the end of the day in the satisfaction of knowing I’ve helped someone,” he said.

“I also work on call for Blue Wren and previously worked in warehousing in Melbourne.

“I’ve always wanted to volunteer. Many of my family members have volunteered for different organisations.

“I wanted to do something different, something of my own, so when I read about the need for community transport drivers, I contacted them.

“I’m glad I did.”

Mr Jeavons, like all the volunteer drivers, tries to make the trips as enjoyable as possible, knowing many of the clients can be nervous about the tests they need.

“I always welcome them to my office when they get into the car,” he said. “We go to different locations so there’s always something to see.

“I laugh sometimes because a teacher when I was at school once told me I’d never get anywhere staring out the window. That teacher was my mother!

“I have a repertoire of bad dad jokes and when clients ask how they can thank me I tell them it’s payment in full to see them laugh.”

The Royal Flying Doctors Service Victoria recently launched their Moon & Back Appeal to raise funds to help Australians who live, work and travel in rural and regional areas.

“The figures are staggering,” said Mr Jeavons.

“As well as the community transport service, the RFDS fleet flies around 28 million kilometres every year to provide urgent care, support, and vital health services.

“It’s the equivalent of 34 trips to the moon and back. I was stunned when I read those figures.

“The service relies on donations and fundraising.”

Anyone who would like to donate to the Flying Doctor Service Moon & Back Appeal can go to donate.rfdsvic.org.au/moon-and-back.

“If anyone wants to donate specifically to community transport, we have special envelopes in each car,” said Mr Jeavons.