If you need inspiration look no further than Alan Chriscoli – a man who has turned an unfortunate circumstance into a being a positive role model.
A quadriplegic who has battled cancer, Alan has been a dedicated volunteer in the Rosewood community for almost 20 years.
His dedication to helping out in his neighbourhood was recognised on Australia Day as one of five nominees for the Rosewood Citizen of the Year award.
“It was a bit of a shock and I’m thankful to the people who nominated me,” says Alan, a resident of the Carinity Karinya Place aged care community.
Alan, 75, was a passionate member of Rosewood RSL where he served as treasurer and played an active part in ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies for 15 years, including conducting speeches in tribute to fallen soldiers.
He also volunteered at Rosewood Community Centre two days a week for more than a decade and was previously recognised by his local council in celebration of 10 years’ service at the community centre.
“I was gob-smacked. One day I turned up and they were having a big party and I didn’t even know what it was for, and that’s when the councillor turned around and presented me with the plaque from the council,” Alan says.
Alan, who also volunteered at his local church, lived at Rosewood for 18 years before moving to Carinity Karinya Place in nearby Laidley.
After coming Australia from Lancashire in England in the 1960s, Alan worked as a painter and in building restoration, renovating some of Ipswich’s iconic historic buildings, and then served in the Australian Army.
Left paralysed and restricted to a wheelchair following a botched operation almost 30 years ago, another procedure on his shoulders “left me with useless arms” and restricted use of his hands.
“But I’ve never given in, I’ve always done voluntary work. I haven’t stopped. I did voluntary work before I was working so I was used to it,” Alan says.
“I’ve always done it, it’s just the way I am. Nobody asked me, I just went around to places and said, ‘Would you like a volunteer?’, and that’s how it started.”
Alan says he gets great satisfaction from helping others and is proud to inspire others, including those living with a disability.
“I still kept volunteering even though I’m in a wheelchair. Even though two doctors made a mess of me I carried on with life,” he says.