Lions Club of Churchill 2023 - Australia Day Report

2023 Australia Day Churchill - Recipients
Recipients - Front (L to R) Mia Castrillo, Hunter Bonfield, Isabel Barling, Aston Makepeace, Back (L to R) Cr Melisa Furguson, Margaret Guthrie, Gabrielle Bonnici

The Churchill Australia Day Community Citizen of the Year award ceremony was held at Churchill Place in Philip Parade. The always popular local entertainer Bill Rowlings played some great Australian songs prior to and during the proceedings, and there was a car display by the Local Piston Club.

Lion Bill Hurenkamp welcomed everyone to the award ceremony then asked the 1st Churchill Scout group to do the flag raising ceremony, followed by an invitation to all to join in with the singing of the National Anthem.

Cathie Halliwell said a prayer which included a remembrance of those who feel pain on this day.

Our new Morwell Member of Parliament Martin Cameron attended and said a few words of welcome. This was his first event attendance he said, and explained that he was settling in and was ready to support our local community. He presented some of the awards.

Reg Grisotto read out the achievements of each recipient.

Latrobe City South Ward Councillor Melissa Ferguson attended the ceremony. She gave a welcome to country and expressed Council’s wish that people enjoy the Australia Day celebrations. She too, presented awards to the remaining award winners in recognition of the exceptional contribution they make to people, their situations and the Churchill Community in general.

The good weather turned cooler for the occasion with even a light drizzle later in proceedings, but it did not dampen the community social gathering of good numbers of people.

The Latrobe City again arranged for a dedicated cleaner on the day to keep the toilets, tables, chairs, and handrails clean and sanitised.

Margaret Guthrie - Churchill Citizen of the Year

Margaret is a long time Citizen of Churchill who has been going about helping and doing good for others without fanfare or looking for public recognition for a long time. She has served her Churchill and the Churchill wider community with distinction over 21 years with a strong passion and commitment to performing charitable work, that helps and makes other people’s lives and her community better.

Whether it is helping struggling needy families, as part of her work with St Vincent De Paul or through her work with the Victorian Public Tenants Association. She achieved great results and gave assistance to needy families, overseas students, those who were destitute or in danger of eviction and becoming homeless. Margaret’s ability to interact and support and get results and solutions for people in the most challenging circumstances has been amazing.

From the time Margaret came to live in Churchill she has always been a very active passionate member of the Churchill community, getting involved with the various community groups, including Churchill & District Community Association, leading the group as president for many years. She also led the Victorian Public Tenants Association as Chairperson for many years, her leadership of both organisations invaluable.

Margaret has also made a huge contribution to the Churchill shopping precinct through her work with the Shop Local day campaigns where she is fully engaged and involved with everything, doing anything from planning the event to making sure everything is in place so the day runs smoothly. She is certainly not scared to ruffle a few feathers if needed. She is also involved with the Churchill Hub recycling program showing her care for the environment in her community. Most people would have no idea the amount of work she does serving the Churchill community. Her empathy with people and her willingness to assist those in need are qualities to be admired.

Margaret is a remarkable woman, determined, and committed to her community who makes Churchill a better place to live.

Congratulations Margaret.

Margaret responded talking about how she was encouraged to become part of Churchill when she arrived and started to attend organisations. She said Churchill was from the start a place she wanted to call home and become a part of.

Gabrielle Bonnice - Churchill Young Citizen of the Year

Gabrielle (better known as Gabby) Bonnici is an extremely active and passionate community member and young person, who always strives for the best in everything she does. She is actively involved with and plays in the local community band, performing regularly at the Churchill ANZAC Day Ceremonies as well as being a member of a local Taekwondo Club where she has achieved her Black Belt helping with teaching others at the lower levels.

At school, Gabby is extremely dedicated to her studies and always strives for high standards. Academically she is of a high standard and tests rank her at the higher end of her year level. She was one of Kurnai College’s 2022 School Captains, and a Peer Support Leader, where she mentored and supported younger students, led group activities and discussions, and was an active and contributing leader within the school community. Gabby is also an active member of Australian Air Force Cadets, which has seen her participate in several community ceremonies and services. Gabby hopes to one day join the Air Force as a pilot or navigator.

As a person, Gabby has a great personality, is confident, and is a friendly, caring, and compassionate young lady, who demonstrates maturity beyond her years. She looks out for others and has an ease of making them feel welcome and included. Gabby has proven to be a constructive, contributing, active member of society and someone who strives and is determined to succeed at everything she does, very deserving of recognition.

Aston Makepeace - HNPS

Aston was nominated by his school Hazelwood North Primary School where he attended and completed Year 6. Aston was nominated by the school for his commitment to his education, respect for school values, leadership qualities and his compassion for giving of his time to assist and help other students.

Aston is a confident well-spoken, very likable young man who gets on well with others and is a role model for other young people. He is one of three siblings who are all close. The three brothers love hanging out together playing footy, swimming in the pool or riding his one-wheel. Being with family is important to him.

Aston’s main interest is in starting year seven at St Paul’s College in Traralgon this year, and is excited by the challenges which lay ahead and is determined to do well in his future academic studies. He has a very keen interest in electronics and technology.

Aston has many other interests including animal welfare, especially looking after his golden retriever and three alpacas at home at Hazelwood North. He is also very keen on sports, and is very dedicated and committed to his gymnastics for Reach Gymnastics Pakenham, where he trains three days per week, and his football which he plays for Tedas Junior Football Club.

Like most young students Aston has his own computer, PlayStation and IPad for work and play. He loves being outdoors and on camping holidays with the family, having travelled to many places, the highlights including Cape York at the top end of Australia, Tasmania and the Flinders Rangers in South Australia.

Aston is a young man who knows where he wants his life to go, and is determined to succeed in everything he does, and has great support from his family as well as his brothers and is a very worthy Australia Day award recipient.

Well done, Aston,

Mia Castrillon - CPS

Mia was nominated by her school Churchill Primary School. Mia will be starting Grade 6 this year and is looking forward to the year ahead and being House Captain. Mia is very committed to her education, and has great respect for school values, always having time to assist and help others.

Mia is confident, polite, and well-spoken, and a leader and role model for other students. She plays sports, loves the outdoors, likes soccer, and hopes to start playing this year. She does Taekwondo and is presently at blue belt level and starting to help out with instructing at the lower levels, Mia is an active member of the community and is always a fantastic participant in school events. Mia likes to help out whenever she can, whether it is at home helping her mum or at school helping the teachers or helping other children in the class, Mia is popular and respected. She participated in the Victorian high ability expression program where she took part in Zoom meetings helping other students in how to express themselves and talking to students in different places. She loves reading and is a creative writer.

Mia likes rollerblading and hanging out with her friends

Mia is a determined young person who always strives to succeed in everything she does.

Congratulations Mia

Hunter Bonfield - CNPS

Hunter was nominated by Churchill North Primary school where she will complete Grade 6 this year. Hunter loves school and learning new things, being creative and artistic. She likes to read and learn and was recognised by the school for her commitment to her education, and respect for school values, her leadership qualities, and for her compassion, giving of her time to assist and help other students. She has hopes of becoming a House Captain.

Hunter loves the outdoors and is into storm chasing and photography with her dad, especially during storms capturing spectacular photos. Hunter likes sports especially soccer which she hopes to pursue further this year.

Hunter is a determined young person who sets high standards for herself and achieves what she sets out to do.

She enjoys hanging with friends but also at the fire station where her dad works.

Hunter is a kind and compassionate young person who is always willing to help others, a role model to other students and contributes to her school community by assisting in school activities and teachers when required.

Great work Hunter

Isabel Barling - LCPS

Isabel was nominated by Lumen Christi Catholic School Churchill where she will start Grade 5 this year with high hopes of becoming a School Captain.

Isabel is a very confident polite young person who loves sport, playing field hockey which she started at a very early age, and now assists with the new younger players who struggle or have problems, helps out with scoring, plays netball for Churchill, swims and does Taekwondo.

Isabel is a very happy and creative person who loves to help and be involved whether at school or at home, or helping out with giving out hampers at Easter and Christmas to young disadvantaged people and people with disabilities.

Isabel is a popular member of the Lumen Christi school community and was nominated by the school because of her commitment to her education, her leadership qualities, and for her deep compassion, giving of her time to assist and help others in need.

Isabel loves music and art and really likes First Nations music and First Nations artists and is into making up music playlists and being a DJ. She has built up quite a following of her playlists.

Singing is loved, including singing in the school choir and at Mass.

Isabel is always willing to help and assist others who need help, she helped with the Breakfast Club setting up tables and chairs, and helping teachers when required and looking out for the younger junior students.

Isabel is a definite role model to other students in the way she conducts herself at school not only academically but also for her care and her desire to help others whether at school or away from school, with a strong will to make a difference.

Congratulations Isabel

Isabel Barling responded with this small speech.

“Before I accept this great honour, it is very important to me to acknowledge the Gunnai Kurnai people who are the traditional custodians of the land we are standing on and pay my respects to the Elders past, present and emerging.

I feel sorry that this is a day of sadness and sorrow for First Nations People and I look forward to seeing our country heal together and build a better future for all people.

I am grateful that my school has given me this amazing opportunity by nominating me. Thank you to the Churchill Lions Club for this wonderful award and to all the inspiring people who have encouraged me”.

After all the awards were presented the traditional Churchill bacon and egg and sausage breakfast was served up by Lions Club members. People lingered for a good while chatting, eating and families enjoyed time together that such social community times allow.

Great feedback was received from people attending the awards ceremony and breakfast. Importantly great citizens were recognised for the contributions they made to others and their community.

2023 Australia Day Churchill - Scenes from the gathering

Photos by Rob Bonfield, Ruth Place