It's not everyday the Governor of NSW comes to town, so you can imagine Carolyn Rice's surprise upon receiving a bouquet of flowers and a certificate from the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC herself.
The Parkes community stalwart and regional health advocate was recognised for her 20 years of volunteer service to the Parkes Hospital on Saturday when the Governor was touring the facility.
On behalf of the Western NSW Local Health District, Ms Beazley thanked Carolyn for her dedication and commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of the community.
"I've received two lots of flowers since my arrival here - the first flowers were a gift and we wondered what we would do with them after our four days here... These flowers are different," the Governor said.
"These flowers are for someone who has given so much to the community, who has been an advocate for rural and regional health, someone who is outspoken when she needs to be.
"Communities like this are full of volunteers and they always say they do the work not for the rewards but because they love it, I think that sums up what it is to be a volunteer."
Carolyn is the Chair of the Lachlan Health Council and said she was so overwhelmed by the presentation that followed Saturday's tour.
"I'm passionate about my community and my family," she said.
"This town needs a hospital that is for all the community.
"We're very fortunate to have the staff here - we've faced our challenges like with our maternity unit, it's been a team effort and I've enjoyed being a small part of that.
"I don't look for the accolades."
The Governor and husband Dennis Wilson were escorted through the Parkes Hospital on Saturday morning by acting Health Service Manager Jenni McGee and Director of Rural Services Sharon McKay.
They started in the emergency department where they discussed the use of telehealth and how much it is valued in regional areas like Parkes.
Mr Wilson asked if the use of telehealth was a reflection of a lack of services in smaller towns or an advancement in the service.
"I believe it's an advancement, but it's also circumstance," Ms McKay said.
"It's also used to support doctors, so they can connect with one another when they need to."
Ms Rice added she has found that in much more remote areas where distance and travel is a factor, it is more acceptable.
Birthing at the hospital was also raised where the staff discussed the new Lachlan Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) for low risk births.
Mr Dennis asked about complications during labour and the service's new maternity unit manager Tracey Barnden said they assess women throughout the entire pregnancy.
"[And if we need to] we choose to send them [to another hospital] sooner rather than later," she said.
"It also focuses on empowering and educating women by telling them 'you know your body better than anyone'."
The Governor arrived in Parkes last Wednesday, where she stopped in at a number of local facilities and attractions - one being the iconic Parkes Radio Telescope on Thursday afternoon.
She and her entourage enjoyed tour of the observatory and a hay ride on the Dish's surface.
Ms Beazley said she was loving the blue skies and that Parkes had a wonderful feel to it.
"I'm in the area to find out what the community's interests and concerns are," she said on Thursday.
She praised regions like Parkes who had done so well to cope through the Covid-19 pandemic.
"There isn't that sort of constraint in regional areas like there is in the city," Ms Beazley said.
"We always need to turn a problem or concern into an opportunity.
"There is so much to do out here... Regional NSW is just explosive."
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