George Farmer won the Senior Citizen of the Year Award.
George Farmer won the Senior Citizen of the Year Award. Warren Lynam

Retired baker finds joy clowning around

GEORGE Farmer wished he had brought his alter-ego, Rocco the Clown, when he won the Sunshine Coast Council's Australia Day Senior Citizen of the Year Award.

"If Rocco was here, he'd be much better to talk to. It's his job," Mr Farmer said.

The Caloundra 69-year-old was awarded the honour for his work with Coastal Caring Clowns, a group of volunteers who visit hospital and nursing homes to bring joy to residents and patients.

Mr Farmer has been clowning around for the last 15 years but admitted it was something he never expected to get into.

After taking a break from his job as a baker, he found himself helping out an elderly neighbour and wound up completing a qualification to enable him to work in aged care "and never looked back".

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He decided to broaden his skills with a workshop by a woman who had done clowning with renowned American clown Patch Adams and was converted, developing his clown character, Rocco.

Mr Farmer has tried to take a background role as president of Coastal Caring Clowns in recent years, concentrating on facilitating arrangements for the other clowns to spread joy rather than performing himself.

But Rocco still makes at least four visits a month and Mr Farmer said the group could do with more clowns.

He said the sick and frail aged responded to clowns in a way they could not respond to the health professionals and support workers around them, because a clown gave them "permission" to be silly.

"They open up. As a clown, I'm not a stranger, I'm a friend."


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