The first person you will see when you make your way to the Children's Hospital at Westmead is Colin Coleman, a familiar face to visitors to the hospital in his role as the 'friendly concierge'.
For Mr. Coleman, it's humbling to be recognised as an important part of the day-to-day situations at Westmead, and he insists that his eight year service is nothing compared to the doctors and nurses who have chalked up three decades in the job.
“It’s a great job," Coleman says.
"You’re the very first person people see, and I sometimes have a bit of conflict with some of them due to the stress of the situation."
“I get people to calm down, park their cars and explain how important the front of the hospital is for access.”
Colin says that acting as a gatekeeper for Westmead is a special job, because while the kids he might first meet as toddlers grow up, their relationship with the hospital can mean that they also form a relationship with Colin and the other staff and volunteers over months and years.
“There are a lot of kids coming through now who are eight or nine and I’ve known them since they were little babies,” he said.
“I’ve seen those parents for the whole time, who you get to know on a first-name basis, and that’s very relaxing [for the family].”
On top of Colin’s passion for children and the hospital is his passion for Rugby League, and despite his love of the Penrith Panthers, he has a soft spot for Parramatta.
“I’m a bit of an NRL fan, I love Rugby League; my favourite team is Penrith but my wife and kids are mad Parramatta fans,” he said.
“I love Parramatta, I really love that side.”
If there is one thing that makes Colin’s job harder it is the arrival of the media, or NRL players making a visit to the hospital – but even though he admits it can be stressful, it is all worthwhile when the children are visited by the players.
“It’s just really good to be able to welcome these people that you see on TV and most of the time they are coming as visitors,” he said.
“[Nathan] Hindmarsh used to be the one who was here all the time, coming with a jersey signed by all of the players and he did a fantastic amount of work visiting sick children.”
One of Colin’s most memorable moments happened most recently when the victorious NSW Blues team made a visit to the hospital.
“I think it just happened, we had the New South Wales Origin team and I shook Jarryd Hayne’s hand. The try he scored the week before was fantastic, even the likes of Sterlo and them were saying how great it was,” he said.
“I got to speak to a couple of them and I think because they have won the series after eight years (since Colin started working there) it would have to be one of my most memorable moments.”
Colin’s honesty goes a long way, and he is blown away by the work many of the doctors, nurses and therapists can achieve at the hospital.
“There are so many fantastic people here.”
But he is more impressed by the courage and strength of the young children who are all fighting their own battles.
“I don’t know how they cope in here, and what these children go through and I really don’t know how they do it day in and day out – they’re pretty special.”
On Friday night, the Eels, Bulldogs and ANZ Stadium will welcome staff and volunteers from the Hospital as special guests to enjoy the Bandaged Bear Cup. All ticketed Eels and Bulldogs Members receive entry to the game, and tickets are available online!