Masters in the art of heart

Local couple share a love of volunteering and life together


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Daphne and Stan Tully

Doug Nicholson

There are a lot of important moving cogs required to keep the wheels turning at a major hospital like Sunnybrook.

Although they carry no scalpel nor even a medical degree during their rounds of miles of Sunnybrook hallways, Stan and Daphne Tully have been breathing vibrant life and hope there for more than 60 years combined.

Stan, 89, and Daphne, 91, are long-retired veterans: she of the British navy and he of the air force. They came to Canada in the mid-1950s and settled in the North York area of Toronto in the early 1970s, when Daphne began to teach herself how to paint. A friend of the couple was a volunteer at Sunnybrook and wondered if the retired couple might want to fill their days helping in the facility as well. Now, for Daphne, some 34 years later and Stan, almost 30 years later, the two can’t imagine life without their volunteer duties.

“I’m going to volunteer there for as long as I can. It is because of this [volunteering] that we are as well and happy as we are,” Daphne said.

“It’s a glorious reason to be getting out of the bed and going in the morning,” Stan added.

Their nearly three decades of impact is practically written on the walls there. Daphne’s late-blooming talent as an artist was natural, and she began a series of art-based fundraisers and programs to assist recovering patients at Sunnybrook.

Immobilized patients would receive personalized painted ceiling tiles, and she crafted large paintings to be sold at charity auctions. She has also created more than 400 cards and postcards featuring her art for the hospital gift shops and auctions.

“I see that as my legacy and something I’m very proud to leave behind,” she said. “We’ve made so many great connections with the patients through the art.”

Meanwhile, Stan, who had a triple bypass surgery in recent years, now spends the bulk of his volunteer time in the hospital’s Heartpal program, meeting with patients facing similar surgeries as a calming force and as a show of inspiration of a long, healthy, happy life after heart surgery.

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