SAN Remo’s Carol Blair was crowned as the 2022 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year for her outstanding contribution to the community.
All nine nominees were invited to Inverloch Community Hub on Wednesday, January 19, where the winner was announced with close friends and family in attendance.
Ms Blair was recognised for her passion to make a difference, and the contribution she has made to her community through countless hours of volunteering.
She has held numerous volunteer roles within the Bass Coast community including chair of the Bass Coast Community Foundation, president of the Bass Coast Community Health Service Committee, involved in Creatively Connecting Communities Bass Coast and president of the San Remo Foreshore Committee just to name a few.
She is currently heavily involved in Women for Change, a working group and sub-charity of the Bass Coast Community Foundation, which raises awareness and advocates for women and girls in the community who are facing gender inequality.
Speaking on the night, Ms Blair said she was completely overwhelmed to be announced as the winner.
“Listening to the stories of everybody here who have worked in the community in their different capacities, I just don’t think I’m worthy,” she said.
“But I do accept it and it is an honour; volunteering and working in the community is something that gives to the community, but it gives those of us doing that volunteering work so much.
“The organisations I’ve worked with and the people I’ve met along the way have all taught me lots of things.
“It’s really great and you’re all working on that common purpose, it’s a great thing to do.
“But it doesn’t come with smooth sailing, and I think I’ve certainly felt the challenge.”
Ms Blair also thanked all those she has worked with in the past and was especially grateful for her family’s support.
“Some of the people I’ve worked with have just inspired me because of the way they have demonstrated their love for community,” she said.
In recognition of their achievements, the nominees received a painting by local Coronet Bay artist, Baden Johnson.
The nominees were all close contenders and have shown incredible commitment to the community and organisations they are involved with.
The following are brief excerpts from each of the nominee’s nomination:
Michael Cannata from Dalyston, nominated by Andre Durkin.
Michael is well known around the area for providing security services and front of house duties at places like Bass Coast Health’s vaccination clinic, the Wonthaggi Workmen’s Club, the Phillip Island Penguin Parade and many more businesses and organisations as the face of Shadow Protective Services.
In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Michael was the first person you would see when you entered the Bass Coast Health Wonthaggi COVID Vaccination Clinic, always with a welcoming smile under his trademark moustache.
John Eddy from Ventnor, nominated by Ross Lloyd.
John has made significant contributions in volunteer capacity to the Bass Coast Shire community in conservation, education and research.
John has been responsible for the revegetation of 11 significant sites on Phillip Island and two on the east coast of Western Port Bay.
This includes seed collection, plant propagation, preparing grant applications for funding, manufacturing plant guards, planning planting layouts, weed control as well as organising and supervising volunteers.
Klaus Edel from Inverloch, Nominated by Terry Hall.
Klaus is a remarkable fellow who has used his heart and hands for the betterment of people in Inverloch, and the wider Bass Coast region, through his commitment to deliver physical, emotional, and environmental benefits to his fellow citizens.
Klaus supports his community through delivering loads of firewood to the elderly and disadvantaged to warm their winter nights.
He also drives local disadvantaged school-aged children with disability to and from camp at the Lions Children’s Village in Licola.
Maddy Harford from West Creek nominated by Deb Watson.
Maddy moved to Bass Coast over 14 years ago and hit the ground running as an active new citizen in the region.
She brought with her a rich professional history and a passion for building community that translated into her becoming a member, or founding member, of a variety of community groups in the area, and for many of which she took on a leadership position.
Maddy works incredibly hard to achieve positive outcomes in everything she does.
Amy Jones from North Wonthaggi, nominated by Scott Edwards.
Amy is an inspirational role model and Bass Coast is richer by having her as part of our community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely busy and challenging time for Amy and her role at the Salvation Army, with responsibilities for food relief and psychosocial support for our community.
Throughout these challenging times, Amy has consistently gone above and beyond her regular duties.
Lija Matthews from Wimbledon Heights, nominated by Emily van der Walt and Mat Bowtell.
Lija goes above and beyond what is expected of a Bass Coast citizen through her extraordinary volunteer service in our region.
Following the tragic death of her best friend, Samantha Fraser in 2018, Lija became determined to find a way to ensure no other woman would become a victim of family violence.
She committed to driving an initiative called “Change for Sam”, a way to connect local community service organisations, raise community awareness and identify gaps to enable better response to incidents of family violence.
Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Purvis from Wonthaggi, nominated by John Williams.
Liz has been crocheting for 50 years and has won numerous prizes for her work including the Royal Melbourne Show.
Liz, despite several recent health issues, single-handedly initiated the Baby Bootie Program at Bass Coast Health Hospital in April 2021.
In July of last year, this was extended to the Baby Bundle Program where every newborn at Wonthaggi Hospital receives a parcel of handmade knitted and crocheted goods, plus a special card labelled ‘Every Child is a Gift’.
Graeme Sprague from Kilcunda, nominated by Ashley Lamers.
Graeme is a very pro-active and well-respected member of the local community.
Over the past 45 years Graeme, or Inspector Sprague as he was known before retirement, has dedicated himself to both the Victorian and Bass Coast community.
Graeme finished his Police career, working from the Wonthaggi Police Station between 2012 and 2016.
Upon his retirement, Graeme continued to serve the Bass Coast community through many avenues, not least of which includes President of the Rotary Club of Wonthaggi, Assistant Governor for Rotary, Bass Coast Shire Council Events Committee, 3mFM Radio Board, Bass Coast Shire Emergency Management Committee as well as ongoing work to improve road safety for pedestrians in Kilcunda.
Graeme has been awarded the National Service Medal as well as many others.