Mater volunteer’s crazy pants bring smiles to patients

17/May/2023     Mater Hospital Brisbane

Mater Hospital Brisbane volunteer Declan knows how to make a big impression.

The 27-year-old North Lakes man is known for his striking shirts and 50 pairs of colourful pants, which help him bring cheer to patients at the Mater Cancer Care Centre and Mater Hospital Brisbane Emergency Department in South Brisbane each week.

Shining a spotlight on National Volunteer Week (15-21 May), the patient companion volunteer has contributed more than 180 hours of work to the hospital since starting in 2022.

Declan was forced to put his nursing studies on hold after being diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a medical condition which affects the functioning of the nervous system and how the brain and body sends and receives signals.

After suffering multiple seizures which affected his ability to pursue his nursing career, Declan said he was still determined to give back to his community.

“Hospitals can be a sad place for lots of patients and if I can do something that puts a smile on their face then I will do it,” Declan said.

“I do a lot of op shopping and at least once a fortnight I buy a new pair of pants.

“I’ve even had patients give me some material to make my own pants which actually encouraged me to learn how to sew – with the help of my mum!”

Declan said wearing colourful clothes can put patients’ minds at ease.

“They know you are not there to give them a blood test or give them bad news,” Declan said.

Declan said he often turned unused sewing offcuts into sleep masks for cancer patients who need plenty of rest during treatment.

“I love making people happy. Sometimes I will sketch portraits for patients and give that to them,” he said.

“I use all my energy volunteering – I absolutely love it. This is therapy for me.

“The patients I meet are so inspiring. I enjoy talking to them and learning from them – you just can’t put a price on something like this. This is my happy place.”

Mater Volunteer Senior Manager Judy Johnson said Declan was a natural in the healthcare environment.

“Declan is compassionate and creative. He is always coming up with ideas on how to boost the morale of patients and make their day just that little bit brighter,” Judy said.

For more information about Mater volunteering, please phone Mater Volunteers on 07 3163 8599, email or visit

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