What’s your connection to Ballan?
I moved from Williamstown to Mount Egerton nearly 20 years ago: the brief was to find a property which ticked all the rural boxes yet was with an hour’s drive of Melbourne’s western suburbs. Starting at Kilmore, each weekend we would swing around the one-hour arc and eventually found this oasis of tranquility 10 minutes from Ballan, 6 minutes from Gordon and 20 minutes to Ballarat. Ballan was quite a different place 20 years ago. But it’s very welcoming to newcomers, offering hand-up help and support: fixing tractors, delivering hay, providing advice on chainsaws and offering opportunities to be involved.
What hats do you wear in the community?
One of the first things I was able to do in the early years was to secure a $20,000 grant for a new organ and piano at St John’s Ballan, a second-hand organ for St John’s Bungaree and a digital piano for St James’ in Morrison.
Why do you feel it’s important to serve your community?
I am motivated when I listen to people’s needs and aspirations, when I sense a willingness of a group to work together and then I become excited about how I can work with that group to make it happen.
Congratulations on being named Moorabool Shire Citizen of the Year. How do you feel?
Being named Citizen of the Year was rather a shock for me: I see so many people in our community working tirelessly for the good of others, often this has been done over many years whilst they have been sacrificing so much – and they just keep giving until they are spent. So I accept this honour that in turn I may honour them and bring their work to the attention of others.
How long have you been involved with the Ballan Autumn Festival?
I have been involved with the Ballan Autumn Festival since 2013; with Ballarat Hospice Care since 2009. These ‘hats’ have provided many opportunities to engage with other groups and causes across Moorabool and in Ballarat.
What do you love about Moorabool?
One of the joys of living in a rural shire is the ability to walk for 30 minutes in the Main Street and to know that in those 30 minutes you have an opportunity to help someone and to make a difference. In that 30 minutes it’s possible to do at least one of these things: to arrange a community meeting, help someone see their problems in perspective, listen to an old joke, tell an old joke, make someone smile, wipe someone’s tears or share someone’s journey.
What would you like to see improved?
This is a difficult one, so I say to myself: “If in being Citizen of the Year you were given one wish for the community, what would it be?” I’m still thinking, and hoping that the year of office will show where the need is.