Nana Joyce volunteers at Bonny Babes Child Care at Hope Island
THERE’S nothing like a comforting cuddle with nana, and the lucky youngsters at Bonny Babes Childcare Centre at Hope Island have their very own ‘Nana Joyce’.
She is Joyce Hartley, a Halcyon Waters homeowner who decided to volunteer at the kindy after losing her beloved husband, David, after almost 61 years of marriage.
“When you lose your husband it’s like half of you is gone,” Joyce said.
“This is the best thing I could have done to get me out of myself and to stop feeling sorry for myself.
“It’s given me a reason to get up in the morning.
“It’s a nice feeling; a purpose, somewhere to go and it’s helped me tremendously.”
Like a true grandmother, Nana Joyce is a source of comforting hugs, endless patience and surprise treats for the toddlers at Bonny Babes.
With her own grandson well into his 20s, Joyce loves having the opportunity to spend quality time with the littlies without the worries of parenthood.
“It really is my playtime, I think I’m the only 80-year-old who has play days and then gets to have nana naps in the afternoon,” she laughed.
“There’s nothing nicer when they run up and give a cuddle because they remember you.
“You do get very attached to them and I spoil them rotten.”
The role has seen Joyce tap her creativity and fill up even more of her time by knitting toys for the children and bringing them her delicious home-baked treats.
“It has led on to other things like me thinking about what I can make for the kids,” she said.
At Christmas, she delighted the children, and staff, by making a special appearance as Mrs Claus.
“I even had the white wig and I looked about 150 years old, but they loved it,” she said.
Joyce became part of the Bonny Babes family just over a year ago after volunteering on a whim.
“I was just driving by one day and I just thought ‘I wonder if they need any help’,” she said.
“They said yes and that I would just need a Blue Card, so I wrote off and got one.”
Bonny Babes lead educator Miss Dionne said the children adore Joyce.
“We love her coming in, the children love it,” she said.
“They see her car driving in and they call out, ‘Nana Joyce, Nana Joyce’.
“The children really like having a person like Joyce around because not everyone has their grandparents nearby.
“It’s such a pleasure to have her here and we always look forward to seeing her.
“You can see that she enjoys it too.”
Joyce spends two mornings each week at Bonny Babes and doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.
“I do enjoy it and I intend to be there for as long as I can,” she said.
“They say to me ‘don’t leave’ so I think I’m well accepted.”