Windale resident reflects on a lifetime of community work as Lake Macquarie Volunteer of the Year

DONALD Spence is proud of his postcode.

The 72-year-old moved to Windale in 1966 when its main feature was a public housing estate.

In the 47 years he has lived in his own home there, Mr Spence has helped secure a fire service, PCYC and a men's shed for the suburb.

In the 1970s, when Windale was declared a low socio-economic area, Mr Spence formed the Windale Community Group.

Led by Mr Spence, the group lobbied Lake Macquarie City Council for vital services to improve Windale's image, such as a police station, swimming pool and a PCYC.

The group managed to gain a PCYC for Windale, but the pool was built in Charlestown and the police station was deemed unnecessary, according to statistics, Mr Spence said.

But the group had given local residents a voice.

"We just wanted to find some solutions to what everyone thought were our problems," Mr Spence said.

"Windale really is a great suburb underneath all the labels."

In later years, Mr Spence was instrumental in opening the Windale-Floraville Fire Service, where he was a retained firefighter for more than 30 years, reaching the rank of captain.

He worked a day job at TNT (then Toll) and volunteered as a firefighter until the mid-2000s when a knee injury he sustained from a house fire rescue forced him to retire.

Mr Spence was also instrumental in establishing the Windale Men's Shed, where he has volunteered since it was built in 1999. The shed has benefited the suburb's retired, unemployed and socially isolated men.

Last month, Mr Spence was awarded Volunteer of the Year at the Lake Macquarie 2014 Australia Day Awards ceremony. His certificate has pride of place on a wall in the Windale Men's Shed.

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