Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

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Oldest volunteers gives fundraising tips

24/May/2018  

Every day 85-year-old Gilbert Brogden springs out of bed to save lives, but he’s not a doctor. Mr Brogden is a volunteer.

He has been involved in Jeans for Genes Day as long as he can remember, and he’s probably the oldest to hit the streets every year to meet people and make a difference.

“Everyone says I look well for 85,’’ Mr Brogden laughs.

“These jobs make me get out of bed. What I tell people is, ‘if you’re lucky enough to be alive then maybe you can keep someone else alive’.’’

Jeans for Genes is one of the many charities that he has carefully selected to be involved in.

Most days of the year you will find him jumping on public transport from his Northern Beaches home to travel several hours to volunteer. Nothing it too difficult for him, and in 2014 he was named Senior Volunteer of the Year.

This drive to make a difference started when he was a child. Mr Brogden’s mother died of breast cancer when he was just 13.

“There was no treatment then,’’ he said. “Now I try to raise money that I know is going to maybe help find a cure for different diseases.’’

The former carpenter first started volunteering on the weekend when he was 40 years ago and became what he calls “a professional volunteer’’ when he retired 20 years ago. His son, John Brogden, has certainly taken a page out of his father’s book. The former NSW Opposition leader is now chairman of Lifeline.

Mr Brogden said he and his son often discuss how important volunteers are.

“People ring you up and ask for money and I tell them I’m a pensioner, but I’ll donate my time,’’ he said.

“It makes me feel good inside. It’s nice to talk to people. Little old ladies like to stop and tell me their stories about someone close to them who has died. I’m a pretty sentimental person.

“If I can help to save lives, then that’s what I’ll do. That’s why I do it, giving a little to help people with awful diseases.’’

Mr Brogden even has a lovely tip for those volunteering this Jeans for Genes Day on August 3.

“Just hesitate before you give them change,’’ he laughs. “They usually say, ‘keep the change’.’’

If you would like to hit the streets and help in any way you can like Mr Brogden, visit jeansforgenes.org.au/volunteer