The Bays Hospital volunteer wins top Senior of the Year award

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Retirement has not stopped Roy Francis taking skills he acquired during his working life and using them to give back to the community.

Mr Francis was named Victorian Senior of the Year recently for his outstanding contribution to local community and Victoria for promoting cancer awareness. One of his volunteer duties is co-chair of the Bays Men’s Health Group (the Men’s Group).

“My wife Helen and I were encouraged by my specialist, who looked after me when I had prostate cancer, to both co-chair a men’s health group at The Bays.

“Being a co-chair is excellent and it has always been in our interest. My wife Helen has a degree in advanced nursing and I worked in sales and marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, so it marries up nicely.

“It’s great to be able to use the skills you’ve got in your retirement to give back to the community and contribute something.

“Men’s health is sometimes a little bit neglected you might say, probably the fault of men as they are a little more reluctant to talk about it, but it is getting better and we are improving,” said Mr Francis.

The Men’s Group started in April and around 50 people attend the bi-monthly meetings where men and their partners hear from different speakers talking about men’s health issues.

“We’ve had a range of people come and talk to our group about exercise, sugar, anxiety and depression, alcohol and the effects it has on your mental and physical wellbeing.

“Our next meeting is in December and we have a speaker from the Cancer Council talking about skin cancer, in time for the summer months,” said Mr Francis.

The Bays Hospital, CEO Allan Boston is very thankful for the time Roy gives to the hospital and is honoured to have him as co-chair of the Men’s Group.

“Roy’s commitment to helping the people of the Mornington Peninsula is endless, particularly in the area of men’s health in which he has become a true ambassador and made a positive impact on the lives of many individuals, their families and local support groups,” said Mr Boston.

The Victorian Senior of the Year win was a shock for Mr Francis.

“I was hearing all of these amazing things the from the other categories had done and never thought I was on the same level as them.

“When they called out my name I was shocked at first, after the initial surprise and as I was walking up the stairs to receive the award I felt honoured after I heard what the other 14 winners had done,” Mr Francis said.

His own cancer diagnosis spurred him into campaigning for men’s health.

“Having cancer, while not the best thing to have, it has given me an understanding of how other people feel, so I can put myself in other men’s shoes when they are diagnosed with a chronic illness,” said Mr Francis.

Along with co-chairing The Bays Men’s Health Group, Mr Francis is a volunteer ambassador for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the National Stroke Foundation and beyondblue, he also founded the Mornington Peninsula Prostate Cancer Support Group and is active in his local community.

But Mr Francis credits much of his success to his wife.

“I get great support from home. My wife is also on the board of our community centre, which I am the president of, and also I get great support. We make a great team,” said Mr Francis.

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