“Party girl” volunteer keeps smiling despite fall

Sutherland Hospital staff may have recognised a familiar face in their rehabilitation gym over the past couple of weeks. Toni McDonald, a long-term volunteer and “best hamburger-maker ever” from the hospital’s Garden Kiosk was a temporary guest at the Killara Ward recently while recovering from a dislocated shoulder and fractured arm, caused by a fall the day after her 101st birthday.

Ms McDonald describes herself as a “party girl” and was disappointed when her hospital stay forced the cancellation of her birthday celebrations. But, in true party girl form, she made friends with staff and other patients in the ward, and plans to have belated birthday celebrations when she has fully recovered.

“I’m a real people person and will keep anyone entertained if they would like a chat,” Ms McDonald said.

Ms McDonald had nothing but praise for the staff at Sutherland Hospital, saying everyone was incredibly nice and kind to her.

Erin Gray, Nurse Unit Manager, Killara Rehabilitation, said having Ms McDonald in her ward brought everyone a lot of happiness.

“Ms McDonald is a great conversationalist and loves to have a laugh and it was such a pleasure to have her here in the Killara Ward,” Ms Gray said.

“She embraced her rehabilitation gym sessions and we are happy that she is on the road to recovery, but we miss her lovely energy around here now that she has been discharged.”

During her time as a volunteer, Ms McDonald was known by staff and other Kiosk volunteers as “the best hamburger maker ever”, and made up to 30 hamburgers a day for around a decade. She said working in the Kiosk was a wonderful time and she is still very close friends with founding members Reg and Shirley Chirgwin, who is also the Kiosk's committee treasurer.

Toni McDonald with her arm in a sling