French nurse is Armidale’s Volunteer of the Year

Nicholas Fuller – The Armidale Express

When nurse Myriam Rigot moved from France to the other side of the world, she volunteered with the elderly.

Now she has been named Armidale’s Adult Volunteer of the Year, recognising her knowledge, compassion, and empathy.

Since late 2015, Myriam has volunteered twice weekly with the Jacaranda Social Club, the Home Nursing Group’s program for people over 65 and indigenous people over 50.

While the elderly paint, dance, or hear guest speakers, Myriam helps serve food and clean, she keeps people safe, and makes sure they enjoy themselves.

“They’re friendly. They come here to socialise. They joke a lot, so it’s always a good atmosphere!”

Volunteering allowed Myriam to improve her English and work with the aged, while drawing on her work experience in France and Germany.

“I didn’t want to stay at home,” she said. “My son was at school and I wanted to be helpful for somebody.”

Myriam and her husband, a paleontologist, moved to Armidale in 2015 when he took up a lecturing role at the University of New England.

​“Because of my husband’s job, we have lived in different places in France,” she said.

“We’ve lived at Montpellier in the south and at Clermont-Ferrand in the centre of France. We’ve also lived in Frankfurt, Germany.

“We returned to France, and my husband found work at last in Australia – and we’re going to move again. Like lots of people today!”

This is the couple’s last year in Australia. They will return to Europe in January, to be closer to their family – taking with them memories of a friendly, multicultural city.

“For me, Australia was the outback, surf, beaches,” Myriam said.

“Armidale was obviously a bit different! But it’s been very pleasant; there’s a lot to do here, and the people are welcoming.

“What I also like about Armidale is its multiculturalism. I don’t know how many nationalities there are – 60, 70? …  Finally, I have Australian friends, but also friends from different nationalities.”