Wonthaggi pays tribute to volunteers


Wonthaggi pays tribute to volunteers


THE Rotary Club of Wonthaggi commemorated citizens who have served the Bass Coast community, at Wonthaggi’s Australia 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 Stirton.

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 Green.

Rotary Club president Heather Earle said Australia’s greatest asset was its people.

“So it is very fitting that on this day of great celebration and enjoyment that 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 Centre.

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 several decades.

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 from education.

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 years.

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 Society.

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 to Orbost.

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 Victoria.

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 Fromelle.



Standout volunteers: Eric and Nola Thorpe of Wonthaggi were named Citizens of the Year at Wonthaggi’s Australia Day event.

Standout volunteers: Eric and Nola Thorpe of Wonthaggi were named Citizens of the Year at Wonthaggi’s Australia Day event.

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Posted by on Feb 2 2016. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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