Stawell's Elva Raggatt - Our 'Angel on the bike'

STAWELL - One of the most familiar sights around the township of Stawell is a little, young at heart lady pedalling furiously down the streets on her bike and that is this column's subject - Elva Raggatt.

Elva is known in some circles as the 'angel on the bike', delivering help wherever she can and whenever she can.

Remarkably, the 80-year-old spends around two hours on her bike each day, making many social calls and ensuring others less fortunate are as comfortable as possible by providing food and helping out with household chores.

That isn't all - Elva volunteers at the Stawell Uniting Church, Red Cross, is a member of Stawell Neighbourhood Watch and once a month she does a full week of meals on wheels delivery however, not on the bike.

Elva was reluctant to reveal too much about her activities.

"I've done what I can where's needed," she said.

The mother-of-four has lived in Stawell for 32 years, moving to the town from Coleraine, near Casterton in the state's far west, with her late husband, Noel.

Noel was a school teacher who had got a promotion, working at Stawell Primary School and when he retired, the couple decided to remain in the town.

"My family aren't here, but Stawell has all the facilities one needs. I find it a wonderful place to live in," Elva said.

A lady who hasn't joined Probus because she hasn't got time, Elva enjoys cooking and rises early each morning to prepare her catering for the day.

Her sponge cakes, scones and slices are legendary in the town, with Elva catering for events at the Uniting Church and other special occasions such as birthdays.

She was recognised as Stawell's Australia Day Senior Citizen of the Year in 1998 and last year, received the Stawell Lions Club Alan J Holding Memorial Community Service Award for outstanding service.

In her own words, Elva has an OBE (Old But Energetic) tag after turning 80 last year.

What motivates Elva to keep going at 80 years of age?

"There always seems to be a need. Fortunately, I'm fit and well and I sleep well," Elva said.

When the question was asked if there was any plan to slow down, it was was met with a resounding 'no'.

Elva's love of Stawell is evident and not only in the work she has carried out over the years for the town's people.

"It has always been a well kept town. The hospital has changed, the services and facilities have expanded. The oval (Central Park) has improved greatly," Elva said, adding the building of the man-made dams (Northern Grampians Shire Council's SWANS project) has also made a remarkable difference to the oval and spillway in Stawell.

Elva would like to see more Stawell people volunteer for the meals on wheels program.

"Meals on wheels needs volunteers. There are plenty of people who could do it who don't," she said.

One of the highlights of Elva's volunteer work in Stawell has been working as a grandstand steward at Central Park over the Easter Stawell Gift carnival.

"This involves keeping an eye on patrons, making sure they don't take folding chairs up the stairs."

Elva had a bird's eye view of the Gift running, which is something she hasn't forgotten.

"The running is so much faster when you're there than on television," she said.

After being so busy throughout the year, Elva takes a well deserved one month break each January, when she goes to visit family in Swan Hill and Wangaratta.

"Volunteer work keeps you busy and I go away for a change of air," she said.

As for the famous bike which is estimated to be 40 years old, Elva isn't ready to put it away just yet and she was embarrassed when the 'angel on the bike' moniker was put to her.

"I'm very humble about that," she said.

"The bike riding is something I've always done and it is quicker than taking the car.

"I enjoy volunteer work. It's a service to others. I don't think about the satisfaction much, I'm just glad I'm able to do it if someone needs it."

Celebrating Stawell's Gold Gifts is a special column brought you by Navarre Minerals Limited, who are proud to be part of the Stawell Community.

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide