Colac Otway celebrates the 2024 Community Award Recipients

Published on 23 May 2024

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Council congratulates the 2024 Colac Otway Community Award recipients, who were officially recognised at an awards presentation and National Volunteer Week celebration.

“The Community Awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and thank members of our community for their dedication and positive contributions to Colac Otway,” said Mayor Marg White.

“Our shire is made up of many wonderful people who do great things and today we celebrated the achievements of three remarkable people in our region, our Citizen of the Year – Lyn Russell, Young Citizen of the Year – Joseph Ames and Community Service Award recipient – Brian Menzies.

“This year, we celebrated our Community Award winners at an event during National Volunteer Week. The awards recognise volunteers within the community, therefore it seems fitting to hold the event during the national week celebrations,” Mayor Marg White said.

“An event during National Volunteer Week also provided Council with the opportunity to extend an invitation to the people who do terrific volunteer work in the shire.

“It was so lovely to have many of our volunteers gather together, to enjoy a celebration and for Councillors to personally thank people who donate their time and energy toward making Colac Otway the wonderful place it is.

“On behalf of Colac Otway Shire Council we congratulate everyone who was nominated for an award this year, and this year’s Community Award recipients,” Cr White said.

Citizen of the Year – Lyn Russell

Community leader and champion of the region, Lyn Russell is Colac Otway’s Citizen of the Year.

A long-term Colac resident, Lyn has been described as having so many achievements, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

Lyn’s nursing career brought her to move from Apollo Bay to Colac in 1969, making the switch to midwifery, Lyn delivered over a thousand local babies over the years.

Lyn has also been instrumental in Colac Otway’s Kana Festival, as Secretary from 2015 and only recently stepping away from the role. Behing the scenes at Kana, Lyn has worked tirelessly to provide support and guidance to the committee and ensure the continued success of the festival, which is now a glorious celebration of Colac Otway’s multicultural and creative communities.

Having belonged to a multitude of community groups over the last four decades, Lyn and her husband Merv ran the Colac Youth Club serving as President, Secretary and Treasurer, Merv and Lyn have also been heavily involved with local cricket, football and basketball clubs over the years.

A member of the Otway Plains District Committee, Lyn plays a part in overseeing three local Scout Groups, 2nd Colac Sea Scouts, 3rd/4th Colac Scouts and Apollo Bay Scouts. The Otway Plains District Committee run activities such as World Scout Day and also Scout training for young members.

Lyn has served her Colac Otway community in the role of Councillor from 2008 to 2016, with a stint as Mayor in 2009 - 2010 and again from 2012 to 2014. When asked about her most significant achievements while serving on Council, Lyn cited working with G21, fellow Councillors and Council staff to achieve bipartisan funding for the duplication of the Princes Highway to Colac, funding for Great Ocean Road upgrades and funding for Bluewater Leisure Centre upgrades as highlights, also mentioning that her favourite achievement was representing the Colac Otway Shire residents in federal, state and regional forums.

Lyn championed local group, Colac Woodturners and Woodcrafters Guild working determinedly to find the group a permanent home at the Colac High School site. When interviewed by the Colac Herald on a highlight of her time on Council, Lyn made special mention of the friendships formed with this group as being relationships she’ll cherish for life and that being present at the opening of the Colac Woodturners and Woodcrafters Guild purpose-built premises at the showgrounds was one of her proudest moments.

Lyn joined forces with Colac Quilters’ Heather Green to coordinate creating a field of knitted, sewn and crocheted poppies to mark the centenary of the First World War Gallipoli landing. This “Wall of Tears” featured 403 woollen poppies, representing the 403 Colac and district solders who died in the First World War.

In true testament to her contribution to her Colac Otway community, Lyn says she lives in the most beautiful part of Australia populated by the most wonderful people, and that residents of Colac Otway have always made Lyn proud to represent them.

Congratulations Lyn!

Young Citizen of the Year – Joseph Ames

Outstanding community member and volunteer lifesaver, Joe Ames is Colac Otway’s Young Citizen of the Year.

Having completed over 800 hours patrolling beaches at Apollo Bay and the coast, Joe is credited as being much admired for his dedication in keeping the public safe on our coast.

A valued Patrol Captain, Joe is also a teacher and role-model for younger members of the Apollo Bay Lifesaving Club, training members on how to conduct CPR, water rescues, first aid and radio communications with the end result culminating in many of these students receiving Surf Bronze Medallions and CPR qualifications.

Joe shows great leadership in leading any response, including first aid, water rescues and advice on surf conditions that his patrol are responsible for. Joe has a calm and welcoming personality, making his patrols popular with other members.

In what has been a very challenging lifesaving season for drownings, Joe has been involved in recent rescues at Marengo, arriving at the scene as a volunteer, using his skills and knowledge to work with police and paramedics to provide the best possible care.

A passionate Bay local, Joe has spent most summer weekends keeping people safe at the beach.

Through his involvement with the Apollo Bay Surf Club, Joe also represents Wye River in the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) racing team.

This experience has enabled Joe to lead and assist Inflatable Rescue Boat safety for ‘Storm the Bay’, Apollo Bay’s major swim event.

A leader within the Apollo Bay Lifesaving Club, members are confident Joe will continue to be a role model for surf lifesaving into the future.


Community Service Award – Brian Menzies

A dedicated sportsperson, and highly respected and admired member of the basketball community, Brian Menzies has made an incredible commitment to the sport in Colac Otway for more than fifty years.

Showing dedication and leadership, Brian made a huge impact on the sport locally, having played, coached, trained and mentored hundreds of past and present basketball players in Colac Otway, also running clinics in Camperdown, Terang, Timboon and other towns in the district.

Coaching for over forty years, Brian has volunteered as coach at various levels including state junior teams, a role he continues to donate his time and expertise to today.

A basketballer himself, Brian played from 1973 to 2001, also representing Colac as a junior player.

Brian began refereeing basketball in 1974, travelling to Melbourne to referee senior games, earning him the invitation to go on a panel that refereed games at the level below NBL.

Earning the qualifications of a Level 1 referee assessor and trainer, Brian has translated these skills to teach local talent, training local referees at no cost to the local association.

Over the years, Brian has received almost every Colac basketball honour there is. He’s a three-time recipient of the Community Award for services to basketball, a three-time recipient of the Gus Goonan Award for services to refereeing and receiving recognition from Basketball Victoria three times.

Brian is also a proud Life Member of the Colac Basketball Association, having received this honour in the early two-thousands after serving on the committee in various roles since 1980.

Over five decades, Brian has dedicated immeasurable hours of time and financial reward for the betterment of basketball players and referees in Colac and surrounds.

Brian is held in the highest level of respect and admiration for his dedication to players of all ages, genders and abilities. One parent of a junior player described Brian as a promoter of youth involvement in sport, providing guidance and encouragement.

Today basketball in Colac Otway continues to grow, with tournaments held locally attracting hundreds of visitors to the region, the sport’s success and popularity is a credit to people like Brian who have dedicated themselves to volunteering for sporting clubs over many years.




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