WARATAH Bay local Joan Newman recently received a COTA (Council on the Ageing) Victoria Senior Achiever Award.

At a special ceremony and morning tea in Leongatha on Tuesday, March 29, Joan’s community work was celebrated by South Gippsland Shire Council CEO Kerryn Ellis, Mayor Cr Mohya Davies, and COTA Victoria CEO Tina Hogarth-Clarke.

Joan is a vibrant and active member of the community and has been recognised for almost single-handedly organising the community’s annual Family Fun Day event for the past 12 years.

Joan oversees all aspects of the event including engaging volunteer marshals and stewards, catering, music and publicity.

In her daily life, Joan volunteers at the Fish Creek Op Shop, knits children’s jumpers and toys for local charities, works on the annual Cancer Daffodil Day Appeal stall and Biggest Morning Tea, in addition to caring for unwell and lonely neighbours.

Joan raised more than $10,000 for the local hospital through writing a book about her life which included life events like a near-fatal car accident and being rescued by the US Navy from a sinking yacht.

Joan is an inspiration to many through her joy of life and a sense of youth well beyond her years.

“Joan is passionate about contributing to her local community,” Mayor Cr Mohya Davies said.

“She is always quick to put up her hand to give assistance and has a drive and determination that would be impressive in people even half her age.

“Joan is the type of person who pours her heart and soul into every event and group she volunteers with – not for the recognition, but for the joy she feels doing a good thing for others. This makes it all the nicer to see her hard work acknowledged by COTA.

“Her Senior Achiever Award is very well deserved and I’m sure that everyone in South Gippsland would happily join me in congratulating Joan and thanking her for all she does for our local community.”

COTA Victoria CEO Tina Hogarth-Clarke said the awards were started to recognise the contribution older people make to community in a multitude of diverse ways.

“They have since grown and are now a partnership between the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and COTA Victoria.

“Today, the COTA Victoria award is titled the Senior Achiever Award and celebrates older Victorians who make a significant contribution to their local community.

“Today, we are celebrating with Joan Newman and how even in her 90s, she is energised, willing and able to support her community.

“She demonstrates that age really is just a number and that if you have purpose and meaning in your life and ensure you keep connected to your family, friends and community, your life will be long and valued.

“And at 93, she is still getting up at 4am in the morning to bake dozens of her famous chocolate eclairs for weddings and other local celebrations.

“Joan is inspirational because her age does not get in the way of what she does. When life has thrown her curve balls, she tosses them right back.”