Local Legends Recipients 2020

Local Legends Conor Alannah Ella WEB

1. Surf Coast Environmental Action Team

Passion, concern and action for the environment is the driving force for a small group of teenagers behind the Surf Coast Environmental Action Team. Formed two years ago by a determined trio of Anglesea 12-year-olds – Ella Heppeler and siblings Alannah and Conor Fitzgerald – SCEAT is focussed on raising environmental awareness and organising local actions that support the cause.

From participating in the School Strike For Climate and the Fight For The Bight protests, to running Cleaner Coast clean-ups, successfully staging fund-raising to buy and plant indigenous species along the Surf Coast, and creating a website to promote a range of specific campaigns targeted at reducing, recycling and reusing waste materials, their dynamic and youthful enthusiasm to encourage others is paying off, with their group growing. Described as “amazing” at being nominated as Local Legends by a parent of one of their newer members, please check their website www.sceatau.wixsite.com/website to find out about future actions.

2. Keshava Jenkins

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Living and promoting harmony with nature, sustainability and peace of mind has been the focus of Keshava Jenkin’s adult life. In the words of his sister-in-law Jacqui: “Keshava has always dedicated his life to helping others. He lives and breathes a healthy lifestyle, with the utmost respect for human life, animal life and the plant kingdom. He works hard in creating community involvement in different ways and I would love to see him honoured for all the wonderful things he does.”

For the past 13 years, Keshava has lived in the Hare Krishna Valley at Bambra, where he manages a small team running an organic farm and market garden, a natural dairy and a “spiritual sanctuary” that includes operating retreats for people interested in learning about vegetarian cooking, yoga, eco living and the ancient Vedic teachings from India. Also responsible for organising Torquay’s Festival Of Colours in February this year, Keshava said being nominated as a Local Legend is a “pleasant surprise”.

3. Keith Grossman

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Described by his daughter Tamara as “inspirational”, 82-year-old Keith Grossman says with a laugh that he is “only semi-retired”, staying active by hobby farming dairy cattle and sheep, and helping “anybody who asks” with advice on a daily basis.

A fourth generation Shire resident, this father of six and grandfather of 15 has deep roots on the Surf Coast dating back to the 1860s when his great grandfather first settled in Bellbrae. Keith said his lifetime of involvement in the community across a range of areas is founded on the pleasure of creating friendships.

Seeing a need to enhance the local environment in the 1980s, he and a mate founded a local chapter of Landcare, planting “a few thousand trees” since then. From the mid-1990s Keith served a decade as a Surf Coast Shire Councillor and was Mayor in 2004/2005.

He has also been honoured with life memberships of the Torquay Football Club and Bellarine Football League, and remains an active committee member of the Torquay Cricket Club, alongside membership of the Bellbrae Cemetery Trust and the Torquay Historical Society.

4. Murray Heard

Local Legends Murray Heard

Seeing Murray Heard among a dozen men of varying ages casually walking, talking and laughing together on Fisherman’s Beach early on a sunny Saturday morning is a credit to the friendly 54-year-old Torquay resident.

The group has gathered for the local weekly version of The Man Walk; a simple idea of bringing men together to “walk, talk and support” that Murray and another member initiated about a year ago after attending one in Geelong.

Murray’s wife Nicol nominated him as a Local Legend, saying “he’s helping the men have a healthy place where they can connect and feel comfortable to discuss what is going on in their lives, a place for them to feel like they are not alone when they experience issues in life.”

Murray, who loves a chat, puts it a little differently. “I’ll talk to anyone”, he said with a laugh, adding: “it’s a good chance to meet new people, listen, share stories and talk about anything.”

To find out more or join, check https://themanwalk.com.au/torquay/

5. John McDonald

Local Legends John McDonald

For a man who says he retired 20 years ago, 82-year-old John McDonald is a great example of the benefits a retiree can bring to a community.

In the words of friend Amanda Hough, who nominated John as a Local Legend: “He’s a humorous, grumpy, modest, wise and active person who -­ despite advancing years and illnesses -­ is actively involved and supports in real effort and time, many services and events. He always says yes to anybody who asks for help.”

A former surveyor who worked across Victoria in the water industry, John also has an MBA, was deputy chairman of Barwon Water and has been a member of Rotary for 35 years. His “retirement CV” since moving to Torquay 20 years ago includes:

  • membership of the RSL Anzac Day Co-ordination team;

  • initiating the local University Of The Third Age and continuing to serve on its board;

  • working on Torquay Rotary Club events like the Motor Show and serving on the Book Fair Committee;

  • involvement in local men’s Card and Friendship Groups;

  • supporting Torquay Food Aid;

  • chairing the Torquay Lions Village;

  • supporting multiple local small businesses with financial and business advice.

When told that part of his recognition as a Local Legend included a $40 voucher to spend at a local business, John said with a laugh: “I’ll do anything for forty bucks.”