19 March 2021

Farewell for Harden-Murrumburrah couple with health at their heart

| Edwina Mason
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John and Carol Ford

For years John and Carol Ford have advocated on behalf of the Harden-Murrumburrah community as they served the community on the town’s local health committee. The couple were active participants in the committee and Carol’s efforts were recognised in 2019 when she was announced Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) Volunteer of the Year. Photo: Supplied.

Harden Health Service has farewelled two much-loved and active members of its Local Health Advisory Committee (LHAC) who have retired after many years of service to the community.

There’s little doubt the efforts, counsel and vocal campaigning of health advocates John and Carol Ford will be sorely missed as they step down from the local committee.

Both joined LHAC in 2013 and 2017 respectively, a move that was seen as a natural extension of their many years of endeavours to help improve the health outcomes of all residents in the region.

In this latter role, the couple were often seen in and around the town and at expos seeking feedback on health services and promoting awareness about health issues such as breast screening, cancer support services and mental health awareness.

Opening of the Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service

John and Carol Ford at the August 2020 opening of the Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service. Photo: MLHD.

But this was just one of the hats worn in the community by this dynamic duo.

John is also a member and past president of the local Rotary Club and is actively involved with the town’s hydrotherapy pool.

And LHAC was only one of many health and community-related committee memberships Carol is involved with in Harden-Murrumburrah.

Passionate, kind and committed to being a community link between local health services and the community – and despite her own health challenges – she’s the first put up her hand to help anyone in need and is.

An advocate for effecting change, improving local health care standards, listening to local health care professionals and the community and for “making things better”, after 40 years of championing women’s and mental health, Carol was awarded Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) Volunteer of the Year in 2019.

She’s also a telephone counsellor with Lifeline and a leader of women in the Anglican Church.

The couple were heavily involved with the early planning stages and advocating for services in the redevelopment of the new multipurpose Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service.

It’s perhaps poignant that the couple are stepping back as the Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service redevelopment nears completion with the new staff accommodation units operational and the landscaped gardens taking shape.

The final stages of works, which followed the opening of the Health Service in August 2020, also included the demolition of the community health building.

Tributes flowed for the couple, among them from the MLHD’s community engagement manager Setchen Brimson.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank John and Carol for their contribution to health in the Harden community,” Ms Brimson said.

“They are both kind-spirited people who enjoy giving back to the community,” she added.

“Their endless enthusiasm and smiling faces at our LHAC forums will be missed.”

Ms Brimson said the couple’s departure left a a gap for newcomers to join the LHAC and the MLHD was calling for expressions of interest from those interested in joining the committee.

Local Health Advisory Committees are a connection between the community and health service to raise concerns and provide support for the service.

They work with MLHD health facility managers to identify local needs, ways to improve access to services and to assist in planning and development.

They’re also charged with the task of sharing information with the local community

“We are looking for people from all walks of life to be involved and encourage anyone with the time and passion to make a difference to express their interest.”

Ms Brimson urged those seeking to follow in John and Carol’s footsteps to go to the MLHD website: https://www.mlhd.health.nsw.gov.au/get-involved/local-health-advisory-committee-(lhac) for more information and application forms.

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