Council recognises volunteering with 2024 Community Awards

Published on 10 May 2024

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Murrindindi Shire Council is gearing up to celebrate its annual Community Awards during National Volunteer Week between 20-26 May, receiving 39 nominations for individuals and community groups who have made an outstanding contribution to our Shire.

In conjunction with National Volunteer Week, Council is rolling out the red carpet and hosting a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in Alexandra on Saturday 25 May, where the Community Award winners will be announced, and our volunteers celebrated. This event will see Award nominees and volunteers come together to enjoy the celebrations.

The 2024 Community Awards recipients will be presented by Mayor Damien Gallagher. The presentations can be viewed via Facebook live stream, Council's website, or listened to on UGFM radio, starting from 6.00 pm on Saturday 25 May.

For more information and to watch the 2024 Community Awards, click here

Earlier this year, Council encouraged residents to nominate who inspires them under the following Award categories:

Volunteer of the Year

Naomi ‘Nomes’ Booker: Nomes volunteers at UGFM radio, chatting with the wider community in her own unique way. She was also influential as a core member of the Thornton / Rubicon Community Plan Program.

Tamara Fowkes: As well as running a protea farm, Tamara is a Rotarian and heavily involved in Kinglake Markets success and volunteers with local clubs, including Net Set Go, the Kinglake Country Fair, Foggy Mountain Music Festival, and Kinglake Library. She uses her social media skills to help community groups, including the Kinglake Art Show. Tamara also helps decorate the town with CWA and has a soft spot for animals and local wildlife rescues.

Sarah Hopkins: Sarah volunteered as the Secretary of Flowerdale Community House for three years, volunteers and fundraises for Flowerdale Primary School and is an integral part of the BMX Feasibility study team. She is currently part of the Flowerdale Community Planning core team.

Ursula Jenkins: Ursula manages Boomerang Bags in the Kinglake Ranges, running weekly sewing sessions to make the bags, at the same time providing a much-needed opportunity for social interaction. She has assisted with grant funding for the local primary school, volunteers at the school and puts time and effort into getting community initiatives up and going.

Peter ‘Scott’ Kerr: Scott has an overall willingness to volunteer whenever needed, he ensures that essential medical appointments and social events are accessible to all members of the Acheron community.

Darryl King: Darryl volunteers with Rotary (any way he can), Murrindindi Woodbourne Hub, Goulburn Valley Suicide Awareness Group and holds a Yea Community Cancer Charity event, and Open Gardens program. He is also an important part of the brigade management team for the Murrindindi CFA.

William Koster: William has started many youth groups in the Taggerty area from Lego club to the Triangle Junior CFA. He is involved in many of the local events in an effort to help grow the Taggerty community.

Jessica Slapp: Jess is part of the Thornton Eildon Football Netball Club executive team and played a pivotal role in the Thornton community planning project, the Thornton History Society and spearheading efforts to create the Thornton Trike track.

Jared Sloane: Jared volunteers at the Thornton Football Club, Alexandra Golf Club and contributes to the successful Thornton Trike track.

Darren Thomas: Darren has served the Thornton community for many years. In the local CFA, he was instrumental in bringing the Tour De Cure (national fund-raiser) through Thornton.

Young Volunteer of the Year

Layla Calder: Layla volunteers at the Flowerdale Op shop, managing their social media. She always helps the older generation of volunteers with any struggles they may have. Layla even took on the role of Assistant Coordinator last year for three weeks.

Alexis Holder: Alexis is a junior member with the Kinglake CWA, she also volunteers time at Kinglake Market and Neighbourhood House as well as studying for her VCE.

Tara Jane Nieuwhof: Tara is a volunteer member of the Alexandra Unit of VicSES, attending various emergencies and rescues, including the recent flood and storm events.

Senior Volunteer of the Year

Barb Guttridge, Sandra Hanley & Diane Quick: Nominated together as leaders of the Yea Strength Training Group, for many years Barb, Sandra and Diane have been running weekly classes for the over 50's as a preventative health program. They gently encourage the fitness of older people to enable a better quality of life.

Bob Burns: Bob is president of the Kinglake Ranges Rotary Club and has been a volunteer member since 2011, leading the youth sports program and clubs in Kinglake. Ensuring the safety of volunteers at the Kinglake Market is his top priority. He also volunteers at sport facility working bees, a 4WD trip raising funds to send 20 young drivers to Murcotts Defence Driving Course, serving breakfast at the Anzac Day service and the Foggy Mountain Music Festival.

John Cannon: John has been a board member of CEACA, now Alexandra Community Hub (ACH) for the past 23 years, 10 of those years as Chairperson. He works with other volunteers ensuring the organisation runs well at an operational level, including supporting the transition for ACH funding away from training activities. John has also been a member of Rotary and involved with the Alexandra Art Show.

 Ron Cooper: Ron has been actively volunteering for approximately 20 years, managing the Goulburn Valley Book Shop, which is run by Friends of the Library. The Alexandra Bookshop is well regarded by the community with people coming from all over the state, especially from Melbourne to find specialty books. Ron is legally blind and deaf and will be 80 years old in August 2024.

 Gail ‘Dolli’ Dollimore: When the Marysville Gym closed, Dolli saw an urgent need and formed a small committee and set about fund raising, establishing a not-for-profit incorporation of the community group. Dolli and the team overcame many challenges and the Tri Active Life Gym finally opened in 2022 at Marysville Community Centre. She is a strong advocate for health and fitness and active aging, including diabetes awareness. Dolli says “It’s a place for ALL to exercise safely”.

 Christine Exton: Christine began volunteering for Kinglake Ranges Inner Wheel Club in 2018 and has undertaken many roles including Secretary and is currently in her second year as President. As well as increasing the volunteer base by almost 30%, she has picked over 4,000 daffodils for Daffodil Day, and runs the BBQ at Kinglake Market which raises funds for important medical research. Christine is the current membership Officer for the Kinglake Historical Society.

 Sharon Fox: Sharon volunteers for numerous organisations of which she is a member and/or office bearer including over 25 years with Yarck Fire Brigade, secretary with Yarck Hall Committee, including the monthly market, Alexandra Golf Club/Racecourse committee member, Rotary, CWA and long-term member with the local LandCare group.

 Heather Joblin: For 27 years, Heather has volunteered on all types of conservation and revegetating activities with Flowerdale and Strath Creek Landcare. Other volunteer work includes Flowerdale Primary school, ANZAC Day/Remembrance Day, Corryong fence restoration, Christmas Carols and the Goulburn Valley Suicide Awareness Group, including the Blue Tree initiative.

 Julie Lynch: As Youth Service Director at the Rotary Club of Yea, Julie has overseen and implemented the Schools Bursary program. She was President of the Rotary Club of Yea in 2011-12 and is the inspiration behind Cycle Dindi, which has been running for eight years, bringing 150 riders annually to Murrindindi Shire with fundraising to support the youth of the Shire.

 Patricia Maxfield: “Tricia” has transferred her skills as an activity group coordinator in Aged Care to leading several line dancing groups each week. The classes support community connection especially for senior community members.

 Graeme Robb: Graeme has contributed exceptional volunteer service in Eildon and surrounds for over 50 years. He has served in the Thornton CFA since 1966 where he is currently Treasurer. He has occupied most positions, including Captain. Graeme served as an Ambulance Community Officer for 52 years, the majority of which was as a volunteer. He was instrumental in the development of Eildon Tennis Club and more recently a member of the Thornton Community Planning core team.

 John Sharwood: John moved to Murrindindi Shire in 1991 and joined the CFA, Rotary Alexandra and the Cathkin Cemetery Trust. John joined the Kellock Lodge board in 2002 and was chairman in 2011-2013. He is a member of the Alexandra Library Committee and was a key driver behind building the new section of the Alexandra library. He is also a generous supporter of Kellock Lodge, the Op Shop and Rotary. The fact that John is still so actively volunteering at 90 is an inspiration to us all.

 Geoff Walker: “There is hardly a snag cooked in the Taggerty area has not been cooked by Geoff Walker” He volunteers with the Community Hub, regularly drives for the Red Cross and works tirelessly assisting community members with their mowing, pruning and cleaning. Geoff is heavily involved with the band Pans on Fire as a musician and a contributor.

 David Web Ware: David has a rich service history with the CFA and since the late 1970's has played an active role in helping to keep the community safe from fire. He has responded to 100's of emergencies including the Black Saturday 2009 fires. More recently the 2022 floods and the 2023 Flowerdale fire. In addition to the fire and flood emergency responses, he has responded to many call-outs such as road vehicle accidents and fallen trees following storms.

Community Group / Initiative of the Year

Murrindindi Beanie & Fibre Festival: For over the ten years the committee have been hosting the well organised community arts event - Murrindindi Beanie & Fibre Festival in Alexandra, an event created by the community, for the community. Anyone can participate by knitting, crocheting beanies or winter warming items, or by creating fibre art, which is donated by the artists and available for sale with funds going toward Alexandra Rotary providing firewood for the elderly and disadvantaged people to warm their homes in winter.

Alexandra Community Christmas Tree Festival: For the last ten years the Alexandra Shire Hall has been transformed each December into a forest of beautiful Christmas trees and twinkling lights, bringing the spirit of Christmas. This includes street decorations and the beautiful tree which adorned the main street. The Alexandra Community Christmas Tree Festival is organised by a small group of community minded, very hard-working organisers supported by a bevy of volunteers.

Yea Cruise Night: The team host the popular Yea Cruise Night for car enthusiasts, meeting in the main street of Yea to support traders and accommodation providers. The monthly event brings people together from across the state on the grassy strip in Yea. There is nothing better than getting some local food, drink, or ice-cream whilst sitting, talking and enjoying the atmosphere of the Yea township.

Boomerang Bags Group from Kinglake: The group saw an issue with waste, single-use plastic bags and increasing pressure on landfill. The aim of the project is to divert waste fabric from landfill by recycling material, cutting it up and sewing it into reusable shopping bags. The group firmly believes in the inherent value of each volunteer and their contribution.

Eildon Visitor Information and Resource Centre: This facility was re-opened after COVID by Jenni Shaw in December 2023. Since then, with the help of Eildon Action Inc, volunteers have kept the Eildon Visitor Information Centre well maintained and open five plus days per week, benefitting local community and visitors seeking guidance about Eildon and surrounds. The big bookshelf offers second-hand books free of charge and local groups access the space regularly. Fundraising includes selling of Eildon souvenirs, produce and local artwork.

Murrindindi Shire Council’s Road Advisory Group (CRAG): This is a group of 16 community members that meet voluntarily to provide community views and create positive outcomes for the local community. They assist Council’s road asset management team to determine acceptable levels of maintenance, renewal, acquisition, expansion, upgrade, disposal, and decommissioning of road assets under the control of Council.

Tri Active Life: This group is run by a Committee of Management that is supported by a number of volunteers who run the day-to-day activities. A Not-for-Profit group located in the Triangle area providing a low-cost opportunity for residents of all abilities to connect and improve their health and wellbeing.

UGFM Radio Murrindindi: UGFM is our Community Radio Station, and is operated by volunteer broadcasters trained by the station. With studios located in Alexandra, Kinglake, Marysville and Yea, UGFM, updates the community with safety information, local news and broadcasting community announcements free for not-for-profit community groups, clubs and organisations.

Glenburn Hall Friday Night Dinners: These dinners create a welcoming space for local people to socialize, connect, share a meal, and support their mental and emotional health. The team members (hosts) show leadership and are dedicated to preparing meals, building community and through their culinary skills, they nourish not only bodies but also hearts. Their impact resonates far beyond the Friday night meal.

Yea Wetlands Discovery Centre: The Yea Wetlands Discovery Centre has been staffed by volunteers 7 days a week since it opened almost 10 years ago. This achievement is due mainly to the fifty-seven wonderful volunteers who staff the reception and run tour guides for visitors, locals, seniors groups and school students. They ensure visitors and locals have the best possible experience. The retention rate of volunteers at the centre has continued to go against the national trend of shedding volunteers post-Covid. In fact, 19 new volunteers have joined the cohort since January 2021.

Murrindindi Shire Council Mayor Damien Gallagher said, “Our nominees are the embodiment of the vibrant community spirit of our Shire. They are active, approachable, and inspirational. They are hardworking team players, mentors, and problem solvers who invest time and effort, displaying empathy, effective communication, and conflict resolution skills. Their recognition is a testament to their partnership with other volunteers, working towards the best outcomes for our community. As we proudly announce the nominees, remember that everyone is a winner and deserves to be celebrated!”

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