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HomeCommunityAct of kindness keeps Allambie Heights’ 90-year-old “Mayor” walking in style

Act of kindness keeps Allambie Heights’ 90-year-old “Mayor” walking in style

Every morning at six, Val walks to the Allambie Heights shops with her little dog Maggie. At 90, and after experiencing a few falls, she needs a walking stick to make the journey a safe one.

“Sometimes I would forget to take my walking stick, but when I did, there would always be someone shouting, ‘Where’s your stick?’,” says The Mayor, as she’s affectionately known by her community.

Val is referring to the local shop owners, particularly Katie Pollard from Strand 22 Hair.

In December last year, Katie made sure Val never forgot her walking stick. She gifted Val a walking stick covered in fairy lights.

“Three more Christmas themed sticks followed because one candy cane stick is never enough,” says Jes Stovold, Val’s walking buddy.

Val now sports a collection of eight specially themed walking sticks, including Australia Day, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras and, most recently, an Easter Bunny inspired stick that comes with matching ears and a tail.

Val, a.k.a The Mayor, with her collection which Katie promises will grow. Image supplied.
Val, a.k.a The Mayor, with her collection which Katie promises will grow. Image supplied.

Katie has promised to keep making the special sticks for the rest of the year until Christmas comes around when Val can restart the rotation.

“My future walking sticks will include the King’s Birthday, Anzac Day and any others we can think of,” Katie explains, adding that she’s open to suggestions for future themes.

“It’s been quite funny, walking around with my sticks,” Val says.

“Even people who don’t know me stop and ask me about them and we have a bit of a laugh when I tell them the story. The other day, I went walking with Jes and I said I could just leave the bunny ears at home and Jes said, ‘no, you have to wear them too’.”

Val is well-known in the Allambie Heights community.

For her 90th birthday, the Allambie Heights shops had posters and banners wishing Val a happy birthday.

“I met people who I’d never seen before and they wished me a happy birthday,” she recalls.

Val's latest walking stick - Easter bunny themed. Image supplied.
Val’s latest walking stick – Easter bunny themed. Image supplied.

Val has lived in her home in Allambie Heights for 65 years and when she first moved to the area, the shops weren’t even open.

Starting her career as a nurse, Val eventually worked at McLeod House as a nurse’s aide, which was a hostel for country children with cerebral palsy. She then became a night shift carer at Venee Burges House (now known at Cerebral Palsy Alliance) and officially retired when she was 72.

Val was a founding member of the local soccer club, and she says all her four children played for Allambie. She is the proud grandmother of nine grandchildren and proud great-grandmother of seven great-grandchildren.

Every morning, she joins her dog walking group, which includes Jes, and in the afternoon she goes for a walk with her son and his dog once he’s finished work.

“Walking is very good for you,” she says.

Val with her Valentine's Day themed walking stick. Image supplied.
Val with her Valentine’s Day themed walking stick. Image supplied.

Katie’s motivation behind the bedazzled walking sticks extends beyond wanting to keep Val safe while she’s on her strolls around the neighbourhood.

“Our senior citizens have been around to do it all before us rookies,” Katie explains.

“They have so much wisdom to share, but sadly, so many young people don’t realise the wealth of knowledge they are missing out on by not really seeing these wonderful people in our community.”

Katie says that a lot of the senior locals share with her that they often feel invisible.

“That just makes me so sad,” she says.

“That’s another reason I make the walking sticks. I want to ensure Val will never be invisible.”

Val with her collection of walking sticks. Image supplied.
Val with her collection of walking sticks. Image supplied.

Jes agrees with Katie.

“I have a real passion for looking after our senior citizens and love talking to them and hearing their stories and wisdom,” she says.

“Katie’s act of kindness in making themed sticks for The Mayor has not only motivated Val to walk with a walking stick, keeping her independent, but has also made those walks fun – for Val and for the community.

“It’s so special to walk with The Mayor around the shops and see how all ages of the community react to her and the sticks. Without the decorated sticks, she’d probably go unnoticed.”

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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