Bass Coast,

2018 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year announced

Bass Coast Shire Council announced Wonthaggi’s Brendan Smith as the 2018 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year at the Australia Day Awards presentation on Wednesday, 17 January.

Mr Smith was recognised for his energy, enthusiasm and commitment to driving change. He has played a key leadership role in community initiatives, developed various support programs, and set up many successful community events.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield, congratulated Mr Smith on his Award, and thanked him for his dedication to the Bass Coast community.

“Your commitment and support of our community is invaluable; not only in leadership and mentorship but also the time you commit to going above and beyond to help others,” Cr Rothfield said.

The Mayor also acknowledged and congratulated all the finalists for the Award; Roger Clark from Grantville, John Curran from Surf Beach, Sam De Pasquale from Cowes, Wendy McBurnie from Inverloch and Marj Powell from Newhaven.

“Selecting our Citizen of the Year Award is not an easy task, because all of our nominees are so deserving of the Award,” Cr Rothfield said.

“Each and every one of our finalists is an outstanding contributor to our community. The time they put in and the difference they make in a range of different areas is just so significant that it makes it difficult to pick just one.”

“I would also like to thank all who took the time to submit nominations for the Awards so we could recognise these outstanding community members this year.”

For more information on the winners and nominees, please see below.

2018 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year – Brendan Smith (nominated by Ross Bramley)

Brendan has been Pastor of the Wonthaggi Baptist Church for the past four years. He is a leader for the community having supported and mentored more than 75 people with his patient, caring and positive nature. In his time at the Church he has inspired and supervised the renovation and extension of the church buildings which are available for the community to use.

It appears Brendan has a knack for introducing or enhancing projects or events. Just some of those he has been involved in include:

  • Free family fun days for the Wonthaggi community
  • The Dollar Club – where $1 coins donated at church are set aside and used to support local people and families in crisis
  • Gravity – a family social club
  • Encouraging volunteers to visiting nursing homes
  • Organising food hampers for the disadvantaged, and
  • Youth programs and Local parenting program.

Brendan also serves on the Wonthaggi Primary School Council and has been on the organising committee for the school’s Mini Mudder event.

Brendan encouraged community involvement in the “Out of Little Things Big Things Grow” program, which has seen significant local support in providing good quality used clothing, toys and educational material to disadvantaged communities in outback Northern Territory. Through this program, and all the others Brendan has a hand in, he encourages, inspires and builds confidence in volunteers in our community.

He is someone with the energy to gets things done while engaging and encouraging others to help make it all happen.

Finalist – Roger Clark (nominated by Meryl Tobin)

Since moving to Grantville with his wife, Vicki, in 2009, Roger has become a significant contributor to the community.

He joined the Bass Valley Community Group and Committee, and became editor of their magazine, the Bass Valley News. He also went on to establish the Waterline News, his own independent monthly community magazine.

These publications not only contribute to local business and tourism, but also help develop community spirit.

When the Grantville and District Ratepayers and Residents Association was struggling Roger stepped in. Roger was elected President and also took on the roles of Acting Secretary and Newsletter Editor.

His involvement in local community organisations covers a myriad of aspects, from the Grantville Cemetery Trust through to the Phillip Island Jazz Club and Festival and the Grantville Business and Community Association.

Roger has given, and continues to give, much of himself and his time to the community. He is an inspirational role model making a positive impact on the lives of others.

Finalist – John Curran (nominated by Bruce Kent)

The Winter Sunshine Festival is John’s brainchild. The Festival is a showcase of classic motorcycles and cars complemented with other activities and social events.

John’s idea was to raise funds to support the local Baptist Minister who provides food and support to Phillip Island locals. He also wanted to attract more visitors to the Island during winter to support local business during the quieter months.

This Festival typifies John’s approach to life: always positive and supportive of others in our community.

Another example of this is John’s commitment to raising community awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for first responders and members of the armed services. He has been instrumental in developing community events (something John seems to be good at) such as the PTSD Baton Run which raises awareness and funds to assist PTSD support organisations. He recently rode to Darwin on his motorcycle (no mean feat) raising money for PTSD groups and speaking with community groups along the way about men’s physical and mental health.

Support for others is not held by borders. John is also a founding member of the Shepherd Foundation, an organisation that funds medical research into primary prevention in primary care and occupational health settings in Victoria.

He also works closely with community groups in Melbourne to support homeless people.

Although John experiences health issues, he keeps a positive outlook and continues to make significant contribution to the community.

Finalist – Sam De Pasquale (nominated by Lesley Hughes)

Every weekend Sam volunteers his time to drive the Lions Club truck, collecting used furniture that would have otherwise been dumped on the side of the road or sent to landfill.

The Club then arranges to resell or donate the furniture to those in need but Sam’s involvement does not end there. He then delivers the furniture to its new owners.

Building materials are also on Sam’s wanted list. He’s often on the lookout for other materials which the Club also resells or repurposes.

In further commitment to the community, Sam also assists young men who are going through tough times, providing them an opportunity to assist with collections and deliveries, providing them something constructive to do with their time. As a result, those young men are showing a higher level of self-respect which ultimately benefits the community at large.

Finalist Wendy McBurnie – (nominated by Carol Hurst)

When Wendy sees a need she doesn’t wait for someone else to do something about it she gets the ball rolling and is quietly persuasive in involving others.

Wendy is a busy person. She coordinates weekly community meals at Wonthaggi Anglican Church for around 130 people and is the principal cook every third week. Having been involved in this program since its beginning, it is very dear to her heart.

When Wendy’s not cooking up a storm she’s at:

  • the CWA as the current craft leader and past Treasurer
  • Inverloch Probus Club Outdoor Leisure Group where Wendy organises week-long camping holidays and activities for the travelling group
  • Inverloch Primary School where she initiated a Christmas program for children and school holiday activities
  • Inverloch Anglican Church where Wendy is currently a Warden and serves on the Parish Council
  • the Inverloch Historical Society

Having moved to Inverloch approximately 15 years ago Wendy has become a valued member of the community, contributing to help others.

Finalist Marj Powell – (nominated by Robert Andrews)

Marj’s local volunteer work for over the past 20 years has always been done with an infectious smile that lifts the spirits of those around her.

Her community service currently includes:

  • being president of the San Remo Op Shop which is focussed on raising funds for Bass Coast Health
  • Treasurer of the Newhaven Hall Committee
  • Welfare Officer for the Probus Club of San Remo.

Marj is an inspiration continuing to serve her community with energy and positivity while being well into her eighties.

Other community groups in which Marj has been involved and contributed include:

  • Griffiths Point Lodge Auxiliary raising funds for the hostel
  • Rotary Club volunteer at the motorcycle Grand Prix looking after visitors’ bikes and helmets for the three days of the event.

Marj’s commitment to the community has been sustained over a long period of time and she shows her desire and energy to continue to be significantly involved to benefit our community.