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Bass Coast’s best recognised

Bass Coast’s best recognised

Thursday 17 January 2019

Bass Coast Shire Council announced Wonthaggi's Deb Rielly as the 2019 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year at the Australia Day Awards presentation tonight.

Also on the night, Rhyll's Hayden Marshall was announced as the 2019 Bass Coast Young Citizen of the Year.

Ms Rielly was recognised for her inspirational contributions to the local community, both in her role as a paramedic and through her personal endeavours. Ms Rielly has been fighting cancer for the past 15 years, but she has never let that keep her from achieving her goals. A volunteer with countless local groups, a founding member of support group Tough Titties, and a motivational speaker, Ms Rielly's courage and selfless nature make her a worthy recipient of this Award.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari, congratulated Ms Rielly on her Award and thanked her for her dedication to the Bass Coast community.

"Your commitment and support of our community is invaluable; whether through your involvement in local groups, representing your community on the world stage, or caring for people in your role of paramedic, your determination and caring attitude always shines through," Cr Tessari said.

The Mayor also acknowledged and congratulated all the Nominees for the Award; Maureen Alford from Wonthaggi; Chelsea Caple from Wonthaggi; Sally Conning from North Wonthaggi; Felicia Di Stefano from Glen Forbes; Catherine Garnham from Wonthaggi; Jill Grayden from Cowes; Sam Haycroft from Ventnor; Robyn Kenny and Steve Kenny from Krowera and Leigh Owens from Wonthaggi.

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

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

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

Mr Marshall was recognised for his outstanding strength and passion, despite facing a huge life challenge. After suffering a broken neck while training for gymnastics on his trampoline, Mr Marshall has approached life with a renewed determination and continues to inspire and encourage those around him. Mr Marshall's dedication and drive make him a deserving winner of this Award.

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

2019 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year - Deb Rielly, Wonthaggi (nominated by Michael Anderson and Barbara and Rebecca Slavin)

Deb is a bright, determined woman who is devoted to her community and inspires others with her positive attitude and caring nature.

Deb has been fighting cancer for the last 15 years but she's never let that keep her from achieving her goals. It was after being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing surgery and chemotherapy that Deb learnt she'd been chosen to represent Australia in the World Championship Ironman event in New Zealand. Being the determined woman that Deb is she competed despite still undergoing treatment.

Deb has never let cancer define her and is an inspiration in the way she cares for others in her community both through her role as a paramedic but also through her personal endeavours.

Deb has raised thousands of dollars for more than 20 local community groups through her annual Keeping Kids on Track fun run event and her involvement in other charity events such as Relay For Life has seen money raised for other worthy causes.

Deb is giving of her time and has been involved as a volunteer for countless local groups and events including Surf Lifesaving Club, Nippers programs, local triathlon club, Bass Coast Cycle Challenge, just to name a few.

Deb is a founding member of Tough Titties, a support group for anyone battling cancer or other illness or trauma in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast areas. Deb gives hope and inspires and encourages everyone she meets. Deb is a cancer fighter not a cancer sufferer and she uses her positive attitude and strength to inspire others to be fighters.

Deb also volunteers her time as a motivational speaker and public speaker on topics such as breast cancer awareness, Daffodil Day and the impacts of ice addiction.

Nominees - Maureen Alford, Wonthaggi (nominated by Max Wells) and Leigh Owens, Wonthaggi (nominated by Darren Parker)

Leigh and his wife Maureen are giving people with a love for music and teaching their passion. Together, they oversee the Wonthaggi Rock School and have done so for around 15 years.

The Wonthaggi Rock School caters for clients ranging from school aged children through to retirees. It's a school for everyone from all walks of life.

The School provides a safe, non-judgmental and welcoming environment where encouraging creativity and developing confidence are core values.

Both Leigh and Maureen's commitment also extends well beyond the School, and they can be seen supporting fundraisers, birthdays and other functions. They are also known to support those needing financial support, cooked dinners, help with moving furniture, even surfing lessons or creating videos. They are regulars at local musical performances including Carols by Candlelight and performances by the Wonthaggi Theatrical Group.

Maureen has a connection with Rose Lodge through performing music and themed events for residents. While Leigh has a special link with Moonya having worked with clients there and volunteered to support their successful performances.

Nominee - Chelsea (Chels) Caple, Wonthaggi (nominated by Jan Clark)

Chelsea is an energetic, can-do passionate local with a view of improving young lives.

Chelsea's dream of opening a gymnastics club in Bass Coast is now fulfilled. Summersalt is an inclusive program for children 12 months to 18 years.

Programs offered there provide the best launch pad for children to skyrocket in gymnastics and in life and provides an environment for children to play with purpose, play to grow and play safe.

The environment allows children to interact, learn, grow and establish relationships and at the same time provides a support network for parents and caregivers. It is a setting where the community can come together.

Chelsea partners with other groups and organisations, such as YMCA, schools and child care centres to provide greater opportunities for children and young people to be exposed to gymnastics and reinforce the message that positive movement can influence a child's outlook on physical activity for life.

She has also aimed to utilising recycled and repurposed equipment - a great environmental outcome.

Summersalt is a Nominee for the Gymnastics Victoria New Club of the Year Award with the winner to be announced next month.

Nominee - Sally Conning, Wonthaggi North (nominated by Helen Page)

An active advocate, educator and speaker for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) community, Sally is dedicated to volunteering her time to share her experiences to improve the lives of other LGBTI community members.

Sally toured with the Equality Roadshow, led by Victoria's first Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality, Ro Allen. Sally insisted they visit her home town of Wonthaggi. This visit set the wheels in motion to improve the health and wellbeing for local LGBTI people in Bass Coast.

Sally is also a founding member of the South Coast Inclusion Network, Bass Coast's first network that advocates for the LGBTI community.

Her visibility, willingness to share her story and speak up for others has, in turn, inspired others to also speak up and get involved in LGBTI inclusion work within our community.

An LGBTI support group meets monthly in Wonthaggi – arranged by Sally. She is also a community representative on Gippsland Primary Health Network's Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee and volunteers at the Youth Pop Up space held at Mitchell House in Wonthaggi. Sally also volunteers her time on many other committees and reference groups outside Bass Coast.

Sally is respected as an LGBTI elder within the rainbow community, valued for her life experience, advocacy work and willingness to share her journey. She is an inspiration to others and deserving of this nomination.

Nominee - Felicia Di Stefano, Glen Forbes (nominated by Jill Yates)

Felicia is known for her high level of commitment and strong values, always giving of herself and her time.

Felicia is passionate about improving the lives of others and advocates for the recognition of the disadvantaged.

Felicia has revitalised the South Gippsland Rural Australians for Refugees organisation. She has opened her home to provide temporary accommodation for newcomers to Bass Coast, also volunteering to tutor English to refugees and migrants.

She shares her knowledge with others through teaching Italian and exercise and wellbeing at U3A. Felicia is also an active member of the Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre also known as Mitchell House, spreading joy with music and food at the many cultural days celebrated there.

Being a member of Art-Space Wonthaggi and sitting on the Committee of the Bass Coast Adult Education Centre is just another way Felicia gives back to the community. A volunteer at Wonthaggi Hospital for over 20 years, Felicia is always armed with a smile and a welcoming and open demeanour.

Nominee - Catherine (Cathy) Garnham, Wonthaggi (nominated by Lincon Morris)

Cathy is passionate and community minded, and her love for basketball has benefited the Bass Coast community.

Cathy is the President of the Wonthaggi Basketball Association and through this role she has significantly and positively impacted both the Basketball Association and the broader Bass Coast community.

Cathy's dedicated campaign to lobby for the development of a community high ball facility in Wonthaggi culminated in the three court facility currently being constructed at the Bass Coast Education Precinct as part of the new Wonthaggi Senior College Senior Campus. To be successful, Cathy needed to ensure the development of relationships between a number of basketball organisations and levels of government.

Outside Bass Coast, Cathy is also involved in growing basketball at regional level by volunteering at state school basketball programs, at skill days, jamborees and presenting at the Basketball in Regional Victoria Conference, sharing both her knowledge and experience.

Cathy also volunteers her time to coach multiple teams at both domestic and representative level while acting as a mentor to a number of young adults wanting to take the step into coaching.

All this while working full time and raising a family.

Nominee - Jill (Jilly) Grayden, Cowes (nominated by Catherine Gregson and Cath Jones)

Jill's love of horses and equestrian has seen her involved in the Phillip Island Pony Club since 1968.

Jill started as a junior member then progressed to writing newsletters and organising navigation rides. She has held positions linked to the Club such as District Commissioner, Chief Instructor (a position still she still holds) and Zone Representative and also volunteers her expertise for the equestrian events each year at the Wonthaggi Show.

Jill's enthusiasm and devotion to nurturing young riders finds her acting as mentor and role model to them. She leads by example and promotes safe, responsible horsemanship as well as team work, leadership and fair play.

Jill is dedicated to her community and has volunteered her time in several roles including rally coordinator for the Phillip Island Adult Riding Club for 10 years and Secretary of the Ventnor Recreation Reserve for approximately 20 years.

In recognition of Jill's dedication and contribution to the Phillip Island Pony Club, she has been bestowed a Life Membership Award.

Nominee - Sam Haycroft, Ventnor (nominated by Jenny Low)

Sam Haycroft wants to make people with severe disabilities feel like rock stars - literally. This caring and inspiring musician and disability worker started an inclusive heavy metal band, Skull Fork. The band's members are some of the people he cares for at disability support service, Scope.

Each Thursday, the band meets outside the local post office, moving on to play in front of Woolworths in Cowes. Support from the Phillip Island community has helped the band members feel connected to the community, leading to increased personal growth, skill development and confidence.

Sam spends countless hours rehearsing and driving members to gigs. Together, the band makes all the decisions about band activities, gigs and fundraising. Their successful crowd ­funding campaign helped them record an album, released by MGM.

They have also produced their own merchandise to raise the money they need to travel to band events and gigs, and to pay for band and recording equipment.

While Sam is a local musician, artist and father of two girls he finds time to bring music into the lives of people living with disability and children in the local area.

Nominee - Steve and Robyn Kenny, Krowera (nominated by Ella Angarane)

Steve and Robyn have made a significant contribution to women's sport in Bass Coast, particularly in Women's AFL Football.

Steve coached the Bass Coast Breakers Women's football team in 2017 and 2018. For his commitment and efforts Steve led the team to their first premiership win in 2018, after being runners up in 2017. With Steve's encouragement and guidance, several Breakers players have gone on to play in the Women's Victorian Football League (VFL). In 2017, the Gippsland Coaches Association Women's Team Coach of the Year Award was presented to Steve.

Whilst Steve held the official position as coach of the Breakers, Robyn is acknowledged for always being by his side and supporting the team – official titles include 'chief water officer' and 'team motivator'. Their partnership has made it all possible.

Steve and Robyn have been instrumental in encouraging and guiding experienced players to take on mentoring roles, and provide leadership and personal development and growth opportunities beyond football.

Neither of Steve and Robyn's daughters play football and they have no family connections to any of the players so their dedication to the team is definitely noteworthy. Steve's commitment to the team meant that in 2018 his business took a back seat in order to assist the Breakers players to reach their full potential.

Steve and Robyn have been instrumental in the development of women's football in Bass Coast.

2019 Bass Coast Young Citizen of the Year - Hayden Marshall, Rhyll (nominated by Ian Marshall)

Hayden is a very determined and inspiring young man who has not let adversity get in the way of a love and passion for gymnastics.

Hayden's love of gymnastics started at the age of five when he started training at the Phillip Island YMCA. As Hayden got older he combined his studies with travel to Mornington three nights per week to train.

Whilst doing this, he also found time to qualify as a gymnastics coach.

Hayden started coaching at Phillip Island YMCA in February 2016, with the aim of offering the opportunity for local children to experience gymnastics.

In June 2016 Hayden won the Victorian men's gymnastics championships on high bar.

Only months after his win, whilst training on the family trampoline, Hayden landed awkwardly breaking his neck in four places, and was diagnosed a complete C5 quadriplegic.

A life-changing experience, this event started a long journey for Hayden where, with the support of his dedicated family, he had to learn to feed himself, dress himself and to use a wheelchair.

Hayden's determination saw his return to study at Newhaven College, recently completing year 12. Not only that, he also returned to gymnastics coaching at Phillip Island YMCA, adapting and learning new coaching skills so he is still able to enjoy and participate in the sport he loves. Hayden's determination to achieve this goal has inspired others.

In June 2018, Hayden achieved the qualification of intermediate judge for Victorian Men's Gymnastics where he is now able to judge club and state competitions.

Nominee - Meg Hynes, Ryanston (nominated by Jason Scott)

Meg is a down-to-earth, approachable and kind young person who makes the most of every opportunity.

Meg was awarded as one of Bass Coast's Young Leaders for 2018 and has also been chosen as College Captain at Newhaven College for this year.

A born leader, Meg's enthusiasm for taking up new opportunities has seen her involved in projects and events such as the Ideally Gender Equity Project 2018, World Challenge India 2017 and as a spokesperson at the Rotary Youth Forum 2018.

Meg's adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors saw her apply and be accepted to sail aboard the Young Endeavour on an 11-day voyage from Gladstone to Brisbane in 2018. It was on this trip of a lifetime where Meg's leadership skills were recognised and she received the Order of Australia Young Endeavour Award.

Meg thinks of others and has been instrumental in fundraising efforts for causes locally and abroad such as conservation of the Victorian High Country.

All this and Meg still finds time to work part-time and play soccer for the Wonthaggi United Soccer Club, receiving the Most Valuable Player Award in 2018.