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From Kincumber to Kathmandu

On Thursday 9 December, Greg Harris set off from his home in Kincumber to cycle to
Gosford Hospital for one last commute before retirement.

After 18 years working at Central Coast Local Health District, first as a registered nurse in C4
Neurology and for the last 11 years as a Parkinson’s nurse, Greg has hung up his scrubs.

But for a man who cycled back and forth to work every day for the past eight years, it should
come as no great surprise Greg would not opt for the quiet life in retirement.

Rather than ride off into the sunset, at the end of January Greg and his wife of over 30 years,
Amanda, will set off for Kathmandu as part of the Human Development and Community
Services volunteer program. Amanda will begin teaching in at a small international school
and Greg hopes to give back through his education or health experience, and by helping
NGOs put in submissions for grant funding.

It’s not the first time the pair have volunteered in Nepal. They spent eight years there from
1995 to 2002, during which time Greg helped to establish a Bachelor of Nursing training
program for Nepali nurses to help them provide better care.

“We had always wanted to go back to Nepal,” Greg said. “When we first left for Nepal in
1995, we had a one, three and five-year-old. We were grateful for the education our kids
received in small Christian schools. Our youngest has just turned 28 and now we are keen to
live out our Christian faith and go back to help others.

“We’re so lucky in Australia to have the access to education and healthcare we do, so we
wanted to give back to the people of Nepal. By providing an appropriate education for the
families of aid, diplomatic, business and mission workers, we can help them as they provide
the training, funding, support and advocacy work that is so important to countries like Nepal.

“We’re going with a program that operates on a three-year cycle, but we may stay longer or
may come back sooner – it really depends how it all goes.”

Originally from Newcastle, Greg worked in Royal North Shore Hospital and in Cairns before
his time in Nepal. He joined the District in 2003 and said it wasn’t difficult to spend so long
working for one organisation.

“There are so many wonderful, high-functioning teams at the District,” Greg said. “There are
people who come in every day and go the extra mile; they work on or cover for others to get
the job done. Caring for the Coast isn’t just a motto – they believe in it, and you can’t help but
want to be part of that.

“I’ve been blessed to work with some fabulous people in my time – patient service assistants,
techs, all types of nurses and, of course, our wonderful volunteers. There are some great
people who want to give the best possible care.”

For the past eight years, Greg cycled to work every day it wasn’t raining or practical due to
work arrangements, but his love of cycling initially came by chance.

“I was originally more of a runner, but I picked up a foot injury doing a half marathon, so I
switched to cycling and caught the bug,” he said. “I loved the idea that by the time you get
home you’ve already finished your exercise.”

With a new-found passion for cycling, Greg became an active member of the Central Coast
Go Active 2 Work community, organised by the District’s Health Promotion Service.

“I’d often arrange to meet other community members en route to work, or cycle home with
them after a shift,” he said. “We also have Go Active 2 Work Day gatherings on the third
Wednesday of every month in William Street Mall in Gosford.

“I made some great friends at the District both through nursing and through Go Active 2
Work. I’d love to see more people joining our cycling community.

“I plan to continue cycling but possibly do more trails in Nepal, and I am hoping to do a bit of
running again.”

Reflecting on nearly two decades of care, Greg said he feels fortunate to have had the
career he has.

“Working at the District has been so rewarding,” he said. “Caring for people for a living, that’s
a privilege.”

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