If you’ve dropped into the Glass House Mountains Visitor and Interpretive Centre on a Wednesday or called the Visit Sunshine Coast visitor information hotline mid-week, chances are you would have spoken with the amiable Rodger Thomson.
At 88, this sprightly gentleman has no plans to give up his weekly volunteer commitment at the visitor information centres, a position that clearly delights him while also benefitting visitors who can tap into Rodger’s extensive knowledge of the Sunshine Coast and tourism industry.
As well as quite possibly being the oldest volunteer at the information centres, Rodger (who says age is merely a number) is the longest serving ambassador, having started at the Caloundra Centre in May 1994. In recognition of his outstanding dedication to his role, Rodger was nominated in the 2021 Sunshine Coast Volunteer of the Year Awards in the Sport and Recreation Services Volunteer category at an awards ceremony recently held at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Rodger said he was both flabbergasted and honoured to be recognised, and felt it was something of note even to have been nominated.
“It was a big thrill to be recognised this way. Even after all these years, I still genuinely enjoy helping people get the most of their visit to our region, and it’s lovely to speak with people from different places and give them tips and advice to make it more interesting and worthwhile for them,” Rodger said.
“It’s also great for our local economy and we hope they’ll enjoy their visit so much they’ll return or share their good experience with their friends and family.”
Rodger said working at the Glass House Mountains centre saw a lot of enquiries from visitors about walks and climbs throughout the surrounding mountains.
“Personally, I like to walk. I’m not a climber as age doesn’t allow it. However, I have always made a point of making myself as knowledgeable as possible about the local tourist experiences whether I have actually done them or not,” Rodger said.
“I love being able to help people plan an enjoyable day out whether that is climbing a local mountain, taking one of the local walking tracks or visiting one of our local sights.”
Rodger said he always had a keen interest in tourism and experiencing new places having worked extensively in the travel industry and been fortunate to travel to every continent except Antarctica.
Visit Sunshine Coast visitor servicing coordinator Beth Mahoney said that you would be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about local tourism than Rodger.
“Rodger is a much-loved member of Team Sunshine Coast and his passion is contagious,” Ms Mahoney said.
“We are so thrilled that his dedication to visitor servicing has been recognised in this year’s Sunshine Coast Volunteer of the Year Awards. It is extremely well deserved.”
Rodger has enjoyed an immensely interesting and culturally rich life, and brings his wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as enviable understanding of the local region to every encounter.
“I have always been interested in tourism and even when I first came to the coast in 1977, I made sure I made the most of exploring all parts of the region from Caloundra to Noosa.
“I’m getting closer to falling off the edge, as they say, but I’m not ready to do that yet! Working as a tourist ambassador, meeting people from all over the place and volunteering keeps me young at heart,” Rodger said.
If you are interested in joining Team Sunshine Coast as a volunteer at the Glass House Mountains Visitor and Interpretive Centre, email VSC visitor servicing coordinator Beth Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0458 788 285.
Photo: Rodger and Visit Sunshine Coast visitor servicing coordinator Beth Mahoney