Local Legends Recipients 2023

The Local Legends recipients for 2023 are:

Brooke Murphy

brooke-murphy-1.jpg Brooke Murphy made a pact with the universe when her eldest daughter made it home to Australia from India 45 minutes before international airspace closed in the shadow of the pandemic.

She knew her daughter would have been OK with lifelong family friends in India if she didn’t make it.

“But I wanted her home with us safely,” Brooke said.

“And the thoughts of the hundreds of thousands of other young people stranded in many parts of the world, unable to make it home to their families never left my thoughts.”

Brooke was at Melbourne Airport when the last plane touched down with returning passengers.

“And in that moment, I simultaneously thanked the universe for getting my daughter back home to me, and vowed I would do anything in my ability to assist any person stranded in our community who didn’t make it home,” Brooke said.

Inadvertently the big-hearted charity Feed Me Surf Coast was born.

“I’m a big believer in the universe always having a plan, as long as you are prepared to listen and follow the signs,” Brooke said.

“The universe did deliver a sign, and shortly after I was introduced to Lana Purcell, the founder of Feed Me Bellarine.

“I had been working at a homeless drop-in centre in Geelong that was closed down as a result of COVID-19 and it really affected me. I was at a loss wondering how the most vulnerable in our community would be supported during this unprecedented time.

“Feed Me Bellarine was already responding to the rolling disastrous effects as COVID-19 hit our shores, and many families on the Surf Coast were experiencing incredibly difficult times through job loss, children at home and uncertain future.

“Feed Me Surf Coast was quickly established as the second location to the already established ‘Feed Me’ charity.”

Brooke became its co-ordinator and remains its mainstay, and her leadership and devotion to its altruistic mission has qualified her as Surf Coast Shire’s latest Local Legend, recognising her positive impact on the lives of others.

Feed Me Surf Coast rescues food fit for consumption which would otherwise end up in landfills, and helps deliver it to people in need.

Volunteers collect from 10 supermarkets every day – more than 3000kg a week – as well as restaurants, cafes, bakeries, wholesalers, growers and farmers.

“We have 117 volunteer ‘Feedsters’ as we call ourselves, plus Torquay Lions, Surf Coast Secondary College and Bellbrae Primary School students, along with young adults with disabilities and their carers,” Brooke said.

“We load, unload, unpack, pack down, stack, reload and unload 600 to 700 crates a week.

“Put simply, we rescue gigantic amounts of food that would otherwise end up in landfill. We feed hundreds upon hundreds of families, we cover our expenses and we are not funded by anyone.”

Brooke said their feed me efforts were initially focused on 210 international seasonal workers stranded on the Surf Coast without employment, housing or support, and 270 international students who had arrived just a few weeks before the international lockdown.

 “We also quickly felt the burdens that everyday Australians in our community were experiencing – hardships that were not planned or expected but unimaginable by our middle-class standards, Brooke said.

“A small and committed group of community members spent day and night quietly responding to the needs of those who required support.

And Brooke says the by-product of ‘all this back-breaking work’ is fairly extraordinary.

“We have created a community within a community of multi-generational and multi-skilled, compassionate, intelligent, funny, sensitive, politically correct and terribly wayward, vibrant and shy, loud and quiet, flexible and firm, carefree and stern gang of ridiculous misfits doing amazing work,” she said.

“We relieve hundreds of families from the daily burden of increased living costs.”