National Volunteer Week: Friendship built on poetry and boats

Ashton and Brian have bonded since Ashton took on the selfless role as a Community Care Tasmania Volunteer.

Ashton and Brian have bonded since Ashton took on the selfless role as a Community Care Tasmania Volunteer.

It is not often that you hear of poetry bringing people together.

Even rarer is the role poetry plays in forming a bond between a 10 year old boy and a 94 year old man.

But that is what happened when Ashton met Brian while on a school trip to the Ainslie nursing home at Low Head last August. With his mother happy to support and facilitate his visits, Ashton applied to be a Community Visitors Scheme volunteer with Community Care Tasmania soon after. 

Ashton wanted to visit Brian as he knew he had few visitors as his family live on the mainland, but he did not know his name, only that he was a poet.

This clue helped staff at Ainslie identify who Ashton had met and arranged for him to visit. They both look forward to their weekly get-together to talk more poetry, and discuss boats, their other great shared passion.

Brian relishes his new friendship with Ashton; ‘there are very few opportunities to meet or see young people when you are in a home’, he says. Ashton likewise enjoys his visits to Brian. He has learnt much from Brian and he loves to tell him about his fishing trips with his dad. But the poetry is the real draw card. Brian no longer writes poetry, but Ashton does. He wants to be a poet when he grows up – and a lawyer. He has written two poems so far, but he has yet to read them to Brian.