Champion senior leads an army: WA Seniors Awards

Brother Olly and his team make 300 wheelchairs a month.        www.communitypix.com.au   d444669
Brother Olly and his team make 300 wheelchairs a month.        www.communitypix.com.au d444669

BROTHER Olly Pickett (74) credits his army of volunteers with his recent win in the WA Seniors Awards.

The founder of Wheelchairs for Kids in Wangara was named the 2015 champion for seniors and won the intergenerational award on October 2.

“When I won the award, I dedicated the award to everyone who works for Wheelchairs for Kids,” he said.

Br Olly said the charity had 155 volunteers who helped build wheelchairs for disabled children in developing countries on weekdays.

He said there were also 16 sewing groups in the community who made the backs, seats and hip supports, plus hundreds of people who crocheted rugs and 160 schools that have raised funds for them.

Br Olly said when Wheelchairs for Kids started in 1998 under the Rotary Club of Scarborough and with the Christian Brothers’ support, he had no idea it would grow to its present size.

He said they were now making 300 wheelchairs a month, having made more than 32,000 in the past 17 years.

Designed to give children mobility throughout their childhood, the chairs have been shipped in containers all over the world.

“From a little kid, it can last right to they are about 16 years old – it’s got all these adjustments,” he said.

“It’s called a rough terrain wheelchair and we follow World Health guidelines.”

Seniors and Volunteering Minister Tony Simpson said Br Olly was an advocate for older people, giving many a sense of purpose.

“He ensures every senior who volunteers with him is made to feel they are making a difference for children with disability,” he said.

“Social isolation is a risk as people get older, but Brother Olly has instilled a sense of worth and commitment in the seniors working with him.”

UWA Associate Professor Christopher Etherton-Beer won the advocate award for his leadership in teaching geriatric medicine and advocacy for seniors’ health.