Ian Ware: Ringwood Biala

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Ian Ware: Ringwood Biala

90-year-old Ian gives breathing space to parents and carers

The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Ringwood Biala to fund employing a part-time coordinator and keep the organisation running for an entire year.

Being the parent of a child with special needs is a non-stop commitment. So it’s a godsend when someone is willing to step in and provide respite, even for a few hours.

That’s the role Ringwood Biala plays. Two days a week during the school term, 40 volunteers provide respite to dozens of parents to give them time to attend appointments, give undivided attention to the child’s siblings, socialise or just have a rest.

The glue that holds it all together is Ian Ware, aged 90, who has been chair of the management committee for 30 years. He rarely misses a meeting and is assiduous about following up issues that arise.

Ian understands first-hand the value of the breathing space Ringwood Biala provides. He and his wife, Evelyn, have a disabled daughter, who is now 57 years old.

“When she was a baby there was no such thing as Biala and I know what my wife and I went through looking after Merryn, who is a delightful young lady now.”

He relates the story of a family who moved from New Zealand. “They had nobody; no grandparents or relatives. They were stuck and Biala was really able to help them.

“It means so much to these parents who are stressed.”

During their respite interventions, the volunteers work one-on-one with the children and follow plans set by their therapists.

There’s also a social side to the program for the children. “They come and meet other children who they know are more like them. They make great friendships and our volunteers make great friendships.”

To spread the word about Ringwood Biala, Ian has a regular slot on the local FM radio station and still takes his turn at fundraising sausage sizzles and selling raffle tickets.

Ian, a former Maroondah Citizen of the Year, says being voted a Westfield Local Hero is “a most unusual, but pleasant, feeling”.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.