Local Legends Recipients 2020
The Local Legends recipients so far are:
Surf Coast Environmental Action Team
Lois Gill, John Forbes and Graeme Daws
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.
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”.
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.
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/
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.”
With his workplace perched overlooking Torquay’s surf beach, Paul Sgouromallis has a priceless view that is a much appreciated pleasure, a constant taunt and brings with it a sense of responsibility, all at once.
The proprietor/barista at the Third Wave Kiosk is a life-long surfer, which accounts for the pleasure and the teasing magnetism of watching the waves in between serving up coffees and snacks seven days a week.
Surfing’s unwritten rule of keeping an eye on fellow wave-riders and ocean users underlies the sense of responsibility and is behind his nomination as a Surf Coast Local Legend by Torquay Surf Club member Peter Quinlan.
Over the five years Paul has run the Third Wave he’s lost count of the number of people he has either directly rescued himself or raised the alarm about with lifesavers. But as the self-described “untrained” lifeguard said: “You can’t un-see somebody in trouble.”
Having gone to the extent of buying his own rescue paddleboard to make his efforts a little easier, Paul also said modestly: “It’s a bit humbling being nominated, I just do what I do because that’s me - if I can help, I’ll do it.”
Tony Whelan’s presence around the Anglesea tennis courts is so frequent it has some asking if he is sleeping in the clubhouse.
An active player since he was “knee high to a grasshopper”, it is Tony’s constant efforts and “fantastic job enabling people to continue playing tennis” over the past nine months behind his nomination as a Local Legend by club member John Ackland.
As John described: “Tony has attended the club on a daily basis, except on wet days, to ensure all regulations are adhered to. Keeping records, taking bookings, monitoring numbers present, advising on pandemic rules, maintaining the courts and overseeing use of the ball machine are just some of the tasks he has been doing.”
Currently president and secretary of the club, Tony has been involved with the club since 1973 and does it all mainly for the “great social atmosphere” of bringing together fellow lovers of the game.
On his new Local Legend status, Tony was typically modest: “It’s a bit exciting and very nice.”
Lois Gill, John Forbes and Graeme Daws
Lois Gill, John Forbes and Graeme Daws embody the priceless contributions that active retirees can bring to communities.
This trio of senior Torquay residents have worked together for two decades collectively volunteering thousands of hours in service of those less fortunate when they could have simply been enjoying their own personal pleasures after long life times of work and raising families.
All three chose to retire on the Surf Coast around 20 years ago from different parts of the state and within two years of their arrivals found themselves together helping to run the then-newly established Torquay Food Aid.
Nominated as Local Legends by new Torquay Food Aid chairman Michael Buckley, 74-year-old Lois, 81-year-old John and 80-year-old Graeme have all recently stepped down from their central roles as TFA secretary, treasurer and chairman respectively – positions each had held for more than 15 years.
Michael Buckley said: “Each of them will be greatly missed from their committee positions and contributions. Torquay Food Aid would not be around if they hadn’t taken on their positions when they did. They enthusiastically ensured any person or family, regardless of their situation, didn't ever go without food. They gained support from local businesses and organisations when times were tough. Many people have gone on and off the committee over the years, but they have been the stalwarts of the work we do.”
The trio’s efforts with TFA are not their only selfless community involvements.
Lois, who laughingly described herself as “a compulsive volunteer”, has also had a more than 20-year connection with Red Cross in a variety of roles; Graeme was a volunteer driver for Barwon Health for 18 years; and John has “done just about everything from chairman down to coaching” at Torquay Bowls Club over two decades of membership there.
When it comes to being recognised as Local Legends, the trio all expressed thanks with some embarrassment for the acknowledgement – Lois saying it was “rather amazing”, Graeme calling it “flattering” and the joker coming out in John, when he said with a laugh: “It’s an honour… that just makes you feel old.”
Like many Surf Coast residents, Joshua McDonald is a passionate nature lover with a healthy concern for the environment.
When the 9-year-old’s Winchelsea Primary School Grade 3 class watched a documentary last year about marine pollution and conservation, Joshua first learned about floating garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean.
To the youngster’s great credit, he decided he could reduce damage to the environment and keep his community cleaner.
“I had to do something. I thought that if I could keep our nature reserve, neighbourhood streets and along our river clear of rubbish then just maybe I’d be stopping rubbish from flowing out to the ocean,” Joshua said.
At least twice a week, Josh heads out with his neighbour and after-school carer Carol, along with a trolley and garbage bags collecting rubbish wherever they find it. He’s been doing the clean-up for the past five months and is committed to continuing it.
“After filling up our rubbish bags we bring them home and sort everything for recycling. It feels great to know the rubbish we’ve collected won’t be going into our rivers and oceans,” Joshua said.
Nominated as a Local Legend by his proud mum Rhonda, Joshua was humble when told he’s being recognised by Surf Coast Shire Council.
“Thank you for choosing me as a Surf Coast Local Legend. I never thought I would be rewarded for trying to keep our neighbourhood and Nature Reserve clean,” he said.
Narrowly surviving a serious health scare three years ago and being told he could not return to his job as a diesel mechanic because of the danger of his ongoing condition, Paddy Loxon was at a loose end until his wife Tricia came up with a suggestion.
As a lab technician at Surf Coast Secondary College, Tricia spoke to the principal knowing the school could use a handy man like Paddy in a volunteer capacity and that would relieve the stress of worrying about his health while she was at work.
So for the past three years now 61-year-old Paddy has done all manner of jobs for the school and clearly endeared himself to the staff and students.
Nominated as a Local Legend by College staff member Andrea Loving, she said of him: “Paddy is able to do just about anything and gives us a hand with everything, always with a smile on his face. From building fish tanks for our Coastal Environmental Centre, helping classes with dissections, building visual display boards and picking up rubbish in the yard while chatting away with students, Paddy's contribution to SCSC strengthens our school community. He leads by example and is a wonderful role model for our students.”
Paddy was stunned to hear he’d even been nominated, let alone recognised by Surf Coast Shire Council. “It makes me very proud and I’m grateful to the school for how they helped me. I love to be around other people and I never want to waste a minute, so doing things for them was great. The staff are fantastic and the kids always showed me great respect.”
Sadly due to some ill health his wife recently suffered, Paddy and Tricia have both had to leave the school, returning to their home state of Western Australia to be closer to family.
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