Bega Valley Shire Community Service Medallions celebrate volunteers

THE idea of community is often spoken about but the recipients of this week’s Community Service Medallions put the idea of selflessly serving the community into practice day after day.

The medallions are awarded annually by Bega Valley Shire Council to those who have made substantial contributions to the community over the years.

The twelve recipients were given their medallions and a certificate at a ceremony at the Bega Country Club on Wednesday.

It was a packed house with friends, friends and nominators in attendance along with representatives of Bega Valley Shire Council and the medallion committee, Edna Duncanson, Mary Cocks, Norma Allen and Lori Hammerton.

“The recipients here today represent all the good things that happen in the Bega Valley,” Mayor Bill Taylor said.

“I sit on the medallion committee and we look for people who do what they do without looking for any reward.

“We hope by recognising our community’s volunteers it encourages and inspires other people to do the same,” he said.

Emcee and committee chairperson Ms Duncanson made special mention of Bowen Finnerty, the youngest recipient at 23.

“We hope he might start a trend!” she noted.

Some recipients were aware of who had nominated them and others were not.

Kerri Binstock was awarded a medallion for her work with the Bermagui Seaside Fair, Montreal Goldfields and assisting Indigenous children with literacy programs from Little Yuin Aboriginal Pre-school right through to Narooma High School.

“I’m scanning the crowd because I know someone is going to give it away with their expression!” she said.

“It’s lovely to be nominated, but this is really something that belongs to all the volunteers I work alongside.”

Harmen Kampman was recognised for not only his 46 years (and counting) with the Candelo Rural Fire Service, but for other contributions to the Candelo community.

“It’s a great honour to get this,” he said.

“I’ve just always believed that if you do someone a good turn they will do a good turn for you, that’s how it should be.”

Eden-based volunteer Margaret Kirkwood noted, “I don’t do this for accolades, I just like to fill my days!”

Lynne Teale said giving back to the community is important to her because of a promise she made as a teenager.

“When I was 15 we immigrated to Australia from Birmingham in England.

“We really wanted to come but were initially refused because my younger brother had an intellectual disability.

“I was 13 at the time, but I wrote to the Australian High Commissioner in London, who was Sir Alexander Downer, and promised if he let us come I would dedicate my life to making a difference in Australia.

“He wrote back and said we could immigrate, although my brother had to be brought out on a full fare.

“And so that’s what I’ve tried to do all my life, give something back - and I intend to keep doing it.”  

Nominations for the 2015 Community Service Medallions open towards the end of the year, but Ms Duncanson said nominators could put forward a worthy name anytime by contacting Bega Valley Shire Council.

Bega Valley Shire Council Community Service Medallions Recipients

Bowen Finnerty

Bowen Finnerty, at 23, is probably the youngest-ever recipient of a Bega Valley Shire Community Service Medallion.

Mr Finnerty, of Bega, has been nominated for the Medallion by the Bega Volunteer Rescue Association which he joined as soon as he reached the age acceptable to the VRA. He had been rejected when he first came knocking because he was too young.

He has worked extremely hard with the squad and is now a fully qualified State Rescue Board operator. He also holds the responsibilities of squad deputy captain.

Mr Finnerty has attended numerous critical and demanding situations and carries the respect of his fellow squad members for his calm and definitive approach to all situations.

As an educator with the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program run by the VRA, young offenders are known to pay particular attention to Bowen’s message and to respect his sincerity.

When he is not working in his day job as a motor mechanic, or on a rescue call-out, Mr Finnerty can be found maintaining the vehicles of the VRA fleet, an unenviable task as the importance of the vehicles running first time, every time, cannot be understated.

Bowen says that what attracted him to the VRA, and what keeps him there, is the variety of activities and “learning something new every week”.

Dennis Curtis

Dennis Curtis of Bega has been a member of the Bega Squash Club for about 30 years with 17 years as president and two as treasurer. 

He is still on the committee as trophy coordinator and on the grading sub-committee.

He started playing squash at the old squash courts in North Bega and still plays local competition as well as in club championship or in a Masters competition in NSW and the ACT.

Because of his leadership, the Bega Squash Club is highly regarded throughout the squash organisation, especially in NSW with the inaugural Bega Open established two years ago.

It was under Mr Curtis’s presidency that the Squash Club relocated to the Bega Country Club when the North Bega building was sold to Bega Cheese.

He was part of the delegation to meet with the Bega RSL Club committee to propose an extension and refurbishment of the courts at the country club.

They had to convince the RSL that it would be worthwhile to build two extra courts and make a commitment to keep the competition going for five years with a strong membership.

The club has managed to maintain more than 100 members throughout Mr Curtis’s presidency while a lot of other clubs have struggled to maintain player rates. 

Mr Curtis was awarded Life Membership of the club, has been named Club Person of the Year three times and received the Peter Eaton Consistency Memorial Award.

While he has given an enormous amount of time and energy to the Bega Squash Club over the years, he has also been active with other community work.

He was involved with the Bega Rugby League Club when his sons played and today still helps with setting up and cleaning up if needed at Roosters’ home games. 

Mr Curtis also helped with many other organisations that his children were involved in, including Bega West and Bega High P&Cs, football and the Angledale Cricket Club scoring cricket games.

He was also involved with the Sapphire Coast Turf Club calling the “fluctuations” for over 30 years, receiving an award from that club for his services to the racing industry.

Dorothy Mullaney

Dorothy Mullaney is a stalwart of the Bega Hospital Auxiliary and it is possible that her interest goes back to the days when she nursed at the old (soon to be old, old) hospital back in the 1950s.

She has been a member of the auxiliary for 14 years, including eight years as president and now as vice president in charge of catering for functions and farewells.

It is due to her leadership and drive, not to mention her personal efforts, that the auxiliary has raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund much-needed equipment for the Bega District Hospital over the years.

She is on the committee of the ANU Rural Doctors Education Program in the Shire and has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer, representing the Hospital Auxiliary and Saint Patrick’s parish, for 10 years.

Ms Mullaney spent eight years as a Family Day Care carer, was elected to the committee and served on the executive for 11 years.  

She was awarded life membership of the organisation for her outstanding service.

Harmen Kampman

Harmen Kampman takes part in the community life of Candelo through a range of organisations, but his greatest commitment has been to the Rural Fire Service which he has served for 46 years, including 18 years as captain.

Mr Kampman came to Australia from Holland with his family in 1951, at the age of eight, and the family moved to Kameruka in 1956 and began working in dairying.

He has lived in the area ever since.

A fire that came through the family property in 1957 was Mr Kampman’s introduction to fire fighting. 

About 20 volunteers were on call then and that number has remained constant over the years.

As far as Mr Kampman is concerned, all those volunteers with the Rural Fire Service brigades who go out and fight bush and house fires, and attend accident scenes, are worthy of note.

He thanks all the members for their support and service throughout the past 46 years and encourages anyone to get involved with their local brigade.

He says the Rural Fire Service deserves the support of the community – “we all have to rely on it sooner or later".

Mr Kampman is a life member of the Candelo Kameruka Bowling Club having served as president and treasurer during his 30 years of membership. 

He is also a member of the Candelo-Kameruka Golf Club and gave many years of outstanding service to the Candelo and the Candelo and Bemboka Rugby League Clubs.

He has been traffic controller at the Candelo Markets for the past 20 years, worked with the Candelo Show Society and was an active member of the Candelo Apex Club for 10 years.

John Robinson

For John Robinson of Bermagui, service to community groups and charitable organisations has been an integral part of his life.

His interests and activities have been broad, ranging from helping found the Bermagui Caving Club and the Wallaga Lake and Bermagui Men’s Shed to running dances and movie nights at the fire shed for the Junior Fire Brigade.

Mr Robinson has also been a member of the Bermagui Apex Club and Bermagui Lions Club and took an active role in training Nippers at the Surf Life Saving Club.

He was also on the Bermagui Parks and Foreshores Committee and the Bega Valley Shire Council’s Bermagui Area Committee.

While he was working at the Bermagui Country Club he started Charity Month which raised $10,000 for Camp Quality in its first year and he has opened his garden to the public to raise money for charity groups.

When he was floor manager at the Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-operative he encouraged the Italian fishermen at Ulladulla to use Bermagui as their base which resulted in more work for the area and the Co-op.

Mr Robinson is described by locals as the modest person who is happy to “do all the dirty work” when needed.

Kerri Binstock

Kerri Binstock relocated from Sydney to Bermagui in 2000 and although theoretically retired she has volunteering commitments every day of the week – and sometimes more than one.

She has been a member of the Bermagui Seaside Fair committee since 2009, organising a free event for children and boasts that “no kid goes home empty-handed” as she gathers toys and gifts throughout the year.

A former teacher, Ms Binstock volunteers two mornings a week for the YESS Group, assisting students at Narooma High School and Bermagui Primary School with literacy and she volunteers at least one day a week to the Little Yuin Aboriginal Pre-school at Wallaga Lake.

Two afternoons a week are donated to the Walaga Lake Homework Centre and she also does informal tutoring of primary, secondary and tertiary students with assignments.

Ms Binstock is a volunteer guide at the Montreal Goldfields when required and is on the board of the Elm Grove Sanctuary Trust which works to uphold human rights, social justice and environmental care in the region.

During her 14 years in Bermagui she has also been involved in teaching local children play tennis, working with Sculpture on the Edge and as secretary and treasurer of the Far South Coast Living Artists Project that supports emerging artists from the Far South Coast.

Lynne Teale

Lynne Teale of Wallagoot has given 27 years of her life to Meals on Wheels and served on the Bega Meals on Wheels committee until 2013. 

She was also on the board of directors of the Bega Valley Meals on Wheels Co-operative for eight years.

She was integral in establishing the Homecare Service in the Bega Valley and managed the organisation for several years.

She was also active in the Bega Valley Health Advisory Committee that identified unmet health needs and in planning for the new South East Regional Hospital.

A keen shooter, Ms Teale a member of the Bega Valley Clay Target Association and served on the executive of both the local and NSW Clay Target Associations.

Margaret Kirkwood

Margaret Kirkwood of Eden ticks all the community volunteering boxes and more.

She has been a member of the CWA for more than 20 years and is the immediate past-president and current treasurer of the Eden branch.  

She is a member of the Pambula Hospital Auxiliary and secretary of the Merimbula Art Group, was a foundation member of the Eden Spinners and Weavers, Art on Imlay and Save Our Hospital Inc and is an emergency volunteer at the Eden Visitor Information Centre.

Having embraced technology, Ms Kirkwood is internet savvy and currently learning how to make best use of her iPad and smart phone.

Mr Kirkwood moved to Eden 11 years ago with her husband John who died in 2012.

Her attitude to life is to live it to its fullest and she describes herself as a “glass full” type, not even a “glass half-full” person.

She says she does what she can do and is not afraid of the age she is. 

She plans to celebrate her 80th birthday with a five weeks holiday in Europe.

When she has time for a hobby she is teaching herself tricot – a cross between knitting and crochet - and she paints.

She says she thought it would be a relaxing hobby but it has proven to be a frustrating hobby because she is not very good at it.

Peter and Carol Wiley

Peter and Carol Wiley of Bega, working together as a team, have become outstanding citizens of the Bega community.

Mr Wiley has been a member of the Bega Lions Club for 37 years, for four terms as president and six terms as secretary.

He has also served as president and treasurer of Cobargo Apex and as the District Governor of Apex.

He has been honoured as a life member of the Australian Lions Foundation and awarded the James D Richardson Honour Award, the highest honour in Lions.

He is always a willing organiser and participant with the administration requirements of the club and happy to help with service projects.

While Ms Wiley is not a “joiner” she is known as a true and caring member of the Bega community who never looks for accolades.

She works hard when the Lions Club needs help with their various fundraisers or working bees and also anywhere she sees a need among friends and neighbours, whether it is cleaning, cooking or simply being a good listener.

Together, the couple visit residents in Casuarina and Hillgrove House and, when they are in hospital, the Wileys will be there to check on their welfare. 

They are always available to take neighbours shopping, to appointments or just an outing.

They were also heavily involved with supporting junior sport including swimming, soccer, cricket and netball when their children were young.

Russell Henry

Russell Henry of Bega is widely acknowledged as a great ambassador for the Bega Valley Shire.

For more than 14 years he has been a volunteer with the Bega Visitor Information Centre, one of the original volunteers who signed on when the Bega Chamber of Commerce and Industry took over management of the centre.

Mr Henry was instrumental in the smooth relocation of the centre from the old bank building in Gipps Street to the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre as a point of contact and actively involved in the move.

He volunteers on at least two days a week as an information officer, answering questions and giving advice on the things to see and do in the Bega Valley to the thousands of travellers who visit his corner in the Heritage Centre.

Mr Henry fills in for other volunteers when they are unavailable and when there are vacancies. He also makes himself available to train new volunteers, keeps volunteers up to date on new information and liaises with Bega Cheese staff.

From his earliest days with the VIC, Mr Henry has taken on the role of organising the centre, rostering and recruiting volunteer staff, ordering stock control and displays. Indeed, many of the new inclusions to the centre are credited as Russell’s initiatives.

The centre has been congratulated for its wide ranging and informative brochures on both the local area and State-wide as well as a comprehensive selection of interstate information.

Stephen Banner

Sergeant Stephen Banner is a police officer attached to the Cooma Highway Patrol and a valuable member of the Bega Volunteer Rescue Association’s rescue squad.

He has been the captain of the VRA for the past three years

He has been a member of the VRA for about 10 years and during that time he has undertaken many rescues throughout the Shire. 

These have included searches, motor vehicle accidents, animal rescue, helping other services and constant fundraising activities.

As a serving police officer working in the highway patrol first in Bega and now in Cooma, quite often Sergeant Banner is the first person on the scene of some devastating situations, liaising with other VRA members and running the rescue scene.

He is also a qualified police rescue and bomb operator and his knowledge and training techniques have been a huge asset to the VRA and its members who, in turn, can pass on excellent performance in their important service to the community.

Sergeant Banner is a volunteer educator in the very successful Traffic Offender Intervention Program run by the VRA in Bega.

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