Volunteers throughout Federation Council area were formally recognised last Sunday, and were entertained and inspired by guest speaker Don Elgin.
“Thank you all so much. We are very, very much privileged to have you working in the community - when people volunteer their time,” the 41-year-old champion Australian paralympian amputee athlete told 90 nominated volunteers at council’s chosen venue, the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort.
For their outstanding work, the much appreciated volunteers received certificates and replicas of medals containing the words ‘Volunteers, give happy live happy’ over a delicious high tea in the golf club resort’s Willow Room.
“Governments don’t say thank you enough to volunteers. It’s estimated that without volunteers it would cost Australia $200 million a year - that’s what the cost on the country would be,” Federation Council Administrator Mike Eden said.
“Rates would triple. Taxes would double. Today is just a very, very small way of saying ‘thank you’.”
Council’s General Manager Chris Gillard told volunteers council staff are “working very hard to do the best possible job to support you”.
“The work volunteers do right across the council area is just exemplary,” he said. “You’ve made council indoor and outdoor staff jobs easier because of the wonderful hard work you’ve done over many, many years.”
A top NSW rugby player in his heyday, Mr Eden was delighted to introduce Mr Elgin who has competed in four world championships, two world cups and one Commonwealth Games.
Born in Donald, Don also grew up in Tocumwal and now resides in Melbourne with his wife and four children.
Although he faced many challenges from birth, Don accepted the card he was dealt and believed he “could deal with this”. He explained how he met those challenges full on with a fierce determination to do his best and did not consider himself disabled even though he had several hurdles to overcome.
In 1990, his best mate at Finley High School encouraged him to enter the Paralympics. “I knew nothing about Paralympics. I thought it was games for disabled people,” he said.
But Don entered, won two swimming amputee events first up and went on to compete in and win plenty of events around the world, venturing into in athletics with shot-put, discus, long jump and 400m. It subsequently opened up doors with roles such as team manager, special commentator on televised championships and featuring in books.
He acknowledged the impact of family and volunteers on his life and sporting career. “My life is amazing and is filled with variety. Every day is a bit different.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of some wonderful volunteers. A lot of time in my life volunteers have been front and centre. What do I call a group of volunteers? “B legends!”
Don’s hour-long address was also entertaining and was warmly applauded by the wonderful volunteers throughout the Federation Council area. There was an encore of applause by the volunteers.