Home' The Great Southern Star : February 2nd 2016 Contents PAGE 20 - “THE STAR”, Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Proud to be an Aussie
Proud to be an Aussie
By Brad Lester
THE Rotary Club of Wonthaggi recog-
nised citizens who have served the Bass
Coast community, at Wonthaggi’s Aus-
tralia Day celebration.
Citizens of the Year were Eric and Nola Thorpe,
while Community Service awards were presented
to Gwen and Ron Wiggins, and Diane and Alistair
Foons Photographics, Wonthaggi, received the
Business Excellence Award and Craig Marinus was
honoured with the Community Arts Award.
The event was held at the Wonthaggi Union
Community Arts Centre on Australia Day, with
Australian songs performed superbly by Tom
Rotary Club president Heather Earle said
Australia’s greatest asset was its people.
“So it is very fitting on this day of great
celebration and enjoyment we should take the time
to acknowledge and thank those many people and
organisations within our community who have
contributed so well in making a real difference to
the lives of others and to make this an even better
community in which to live,” she said.
Guest speaker Margaret Ritchie, from the
Wonthaggi Genealogy Group, spoke of her family
link with the First Fleet and the challenges those
men and women faced during the early settlement
of the country.
Top citizens Eric and Nola Thorpe have served
the community in many roles.
Mr Thorpe has been a member of Wonthaggi
Woodcrafters for 24 years and is one of five
life members. He and fellow woodcrafters have
supported many individuals and community groups,
including the Rotary Club of Wonthaggi.
Mrs Thorpe volunteers at the Wonthaggi Library
and was among the members to push for a new
library. She is a member of the West Gippsland
Regional Library Corporation’s Community
Advisory Committee and a member of the Fine Film
Mrs Thorpe is a founding member of Bass Coast
Chorale, a member of the Committee for Birdlife
Bass Coast and enjoys bird watching.
She serves the Wonthaggi Historical Society for
two days a week, cataloguing maps and newspapers,
and assisting with the book collection.
Gwen and Ron Wiggins have been known as the
unofficial ‘mayor and mayoress’ of Bass. They have
been involved with cricket, football, tennis, netball
and looking after the Bass Recreation Reserve over
The couple has also helped at the Kilcunda
Lobster Festival, the San Remo Channel Challenge,
the Woolamai races, bingo at the Bass Reserve,
planting trees and maintenance around the reserve,
working in the canteen at the footy and at functions
run by the Kilcunda-Bass Football Netball Club.
Diane and Alistair Stirton returned to Mr
Stirton’s home town of Wonthaggi when he retired
He served with the Wonthaggi Rovers Football
Club as treasurer for several years and Mrs Stirton,
while still working, took on the leadership of the
Brownies and Guides Unit in Wonthaggi for many
Mr Stirton also started his long involvement
at the State Coal Mine as a tour guide for school
groups. Now both of them are involved with the
mine’s school and Junior Rangers programs, and
Friends of The State Coal Mine. Mr Stirton is
treasurer and Mrs Stirton looks after purchasing and
stocking at the mine shop.
Since retiring from teaching, Mrs Stirton has
worked with refugees, teaching English as a home
tutor and supporting tutors in the classroom. The
couple also supports the Wonthaggi Historical
Business award recipients Foons Photographics
has been around for more than 55 years and was
awarded for good service, high standards, reliability,
honesty and friendliness.
The business was begun by Morris and Valerie
Foon in the early 1960s, and now their sons Trevor
and Alan continue the tradition.
The business also provides photography to
schools and kindergartens from Melbourne through
The Foons continue to pursue their own love of
photography and have received several awards for
their photographic skills.
Community Arts Award winner Craig Marinus
is the current musical director of the Wonthaggi
Citizens Band, having been involved with the group
for more than 20 years.
Under his leadership, the band has risen to be
among the most successful competitive bands in
Mr Marinus has a terrific knowledge of music,
is friendly and positive, has a great sense of humour
and sets high standards.
He mentors young musicians and as a brilliant
performer, is also a member of the Victorian Brass
Band, a hand-picked band of exceptional talent from
across the state.
Last year, he joined the Traralgon Brass Band,
playing principal cornet, to perform across Europe.
He had the honour of playing The Last Post and
Reveille at many war memorials in France and
Belgium, namely Villers-Bretoneux, Meningate and
Wonthaggi pays tribute to volunteers
Standout volunteers: Eric and
Nola Thorpe of Wonthaggi were
named Citizens of the Year at
Wonthaggi’s Australia Day event.
Volunteers appreciated: the
Rotary Club of Wonthaggi
presented Community Service
awards to Gwen and Ron Wiggins
for their service to Bass.
Many interests: Diane and Alistair
Stirton received a Community
Service award from the Rotary
Club of Wonthaggi.
First class: Valerie Foon and son
Alan Foon represented Foons Pho-
tographics, Wonthaggi, winner of the
Business Excellence Award at Wont-
haggi’s Australia Day celebration.
Musical type: Craig Marinus,
Wonthaggi Citizens Band, won
the Community Arts Award at
Wonthaggi’s Australia Day event.
By Brad Lester
JELLIE Wyckelsma still believes
she and husband Gerard made the
right decision moving to Australia
from The Netherlands in 1958.
The guest speaker at Inverloch’s
Australia Day service said her new home
was still “The Lucky Country”.
“Our country is a tolerant society
where man and woman have equal rights
and respect each other,” she said.
“However respect doesn’t come for
free. We should not forget that all of us
have to keep on earning each other’s
respect, whatever background our fellow
Australians came from, or in which
culture they were raised.”
The Inverloch resident said The
Netherlands was experiencing a housing
shortage post World War Two and
Australia was campaigning for skilled
migrants from Europe.
“The US had a quota system and
a waiting list. South Africa with its
apartheid had racial problems on the
horizon. Canada had very long and severe
winters, and New Zealand seemed a little
small,” she said.
experience and Mrs Wyckelsma a
librarian, when as 23 year old newlyweds,
they embarked for Australia.
They left The Netherlands and the day
after arriving in Sydney, boarded a train
for Melbourne. They soon found work as
servants to a family.
“I’m sure my friends and family back
in Holland might have shaken their heads,
but I’m sure my parents were also proud
of me that I took on something so different
from my upbringing and education,” Mrs
Mr Wyckelsma began working for
a construction company in Heidelberg
as the couple grappled with the culture
shock, the Australian accent, the imperial
systems of measurement and money, and
traffic on the left.
Mrs Wyckelsma later secured a role at
the City of Brighton Public Library.
“We are retired now and even now we
maintain we did make the right decision
to come here,” she said.
“Of course in our hearts we still feel a
little Dutch, and Gerard and I still converse
in the privacy of our home in Dutch.”
Mrs Wyckelsma was a highlight
of the ceremony outside the Inverloch
Community Hub, hosted by the Inverloch
RSL, Bass Coast Shire Council, and
Inverloch and District Lions Club.
The Inverloch Folkies Band performed
Australian songs, Lions cooked a barbecue
and children enjoyed face painting.
Jellie proud to call
Patriotic feel: the In-
verloch Folkies Band
played a selection of
Aussie favourites at In-
verloch’s Australia Day
celebration. From left,
Claire Duncan, Charlie
Cantieni and Jenny
Inverloch RSL secretary
Jan Millington (left)
and guest speaker Jellie
Wyckelsma, who spoke
about her journey from
The Netherlands to a
new life in Australia.
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