Outstanding citizens, community events and community services have been acknowledged and celebrated at the 2024 Latrobe City Australia Day Awards ceremony today.
Long-standing volunteers of the Gippsland Motorcyclists Toy Run campaign, Alf and Stella Vella, were awarded the 2024 Citizen of the Year Award.
As avid motorcycle enthusiasts, Alf and Stella initiated the Toy Run 23 years ago, evolving into a major annual event.
Along with other participating motorcycle groups and a host of volunteers, the husband-and-wife duo passionately gather toy donations to support the less fortunate before Christmas. Their efforts generate substantial donations that benefit numerous families and children.
The Gippsland Motorcyclists Toy Run also took out the 2024 Community Event of the Year Award.
Knitted Knockers Australia, Traralgon Branch, a community group dedicated to hand-knitting prosthesis for women who have had a mastectomy due to breast cancer, received the 2024 Community Service of the Year Award.
The group have distributed 63 hospital packs of hand-knitted prosthesis to women in need since opening in August 2022.
Harlequin Goodes, an outspoken and passionate advocate for youth equality, received the 2024 Young Citizen of the Year Award.
Through Gippsland Youth Spaces, Harlequin advocates for youth equality, access and equity. She was also recognised for addressing crucial matters for regional youth, especially for new energy in Latrobe City.
John O’Bryan, an integral member of the Morwell Fire Brigade, received the 2024 Senior Citizen of the Year Award for his dedication to the CFA spanning over 55 years.
John, who has held numerous leadership positions in the brigade, received the Emergency Services Award for his response during the 2009 Black Saturday fires. He was recognised for showing this dedication through mentoring junior members and attending regular brigade meetings.
Mayor of Latrobe City Council, Councillor Darren Howe, congratulated the award winners and nominees.
“All nominees should be proud of their achievements,” said the Mayor. “They have all selflessly sought to make Latrobe City a great place to work, live and visit.”
The Mayor also touched upon the importance of volunteering.
“We know that through volunteering and other acts of service, we can help foster a greater sense of belonging.”
“Council encourages community members from all ages, backgrounds and skill levels to volunteer.”
Deputy Mayor of Latrobe City Council, Councillor Tracie Lund congratulated the Australia Day award winners and nominees.
“Your dedication, tireless efforts and commitment to making our community a better place are truly commendable,” said the Deputy Mayor.
“Your contributions serve as a shining example of the spirit of unity and service that defines our great nation. Thank you for your outstanding work, and may you continue to inspire us all with your passion and commitment to Latrobe City.”