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Volunteer award to be named in honour of Maroondah stalwart, Bill Wilkins (OAM)

Published on 21 December 2018
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  • Community
Bill-Wilkins.jpg Bill Wilkins (OAM)

A distinguished volunteer service award to be presented for the first time in 2019 has been named in honour of respected community figure, Bill Wilkins (OAM). 

The Bill Wilkins Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented annually in honour of those volunteers who inspire and embody the spirit of volunteerism through their exemplary contribution to the community.

Council announced the creation of the new distinguished service award during its recent annual Volunteer Recognition Function, a special ceremony held to acknowledge the significant contribution of its long-serving volunteers.

Mayor Rob Steane said like its namesake, the Bill Wilkins Volunteer of the Year Award would similarly recognise others who go above and beyond in their commitment to helping others in the community.

“Council is delighted to grant Bill Wilkins the distinguished honour of having such an award named in his honour, and ensure his legacy continues on for future generations,” Cr Steane said.

“As a lifelong volunteer, Bill Wilkins has become an integral part of the fabric of our City’s history.

“Bill received special commendation at our most recent Volunteer Recognition Function event in recognition of more than 75 years of volunteering in Maroondah.

“No words can adequately explain the commitment he has shown to the Maroondah community over this time. His sustained commitment to volunteering in numerous capacities has contributed immeasurably to the strong and wonderful community volunteer base we have here in Maroondah today,” he said.

A humbled Mr Wilkins said he felt proud and honoured to have been chosen as the namesake of the award.

“During my lifetime as a volunteer, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people in the community who every day contribute their time and skills to ensure the wellbeing of their fellow citizens,” he said.

“I feel very proud and honoured that the Council has seen fit to have the award bear my name, because I have long subscribed to the philosophy of Council recognition of the hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers in our City who form part of our community support system,” he said.

As a Councillor at the former City of Ringwood from February 1977 until August 1989, serving as Mayor from 1985 to 1986, Mr Wilkins continually strove for excellence in the establishment of services and facilities to benefit the community.

In 1994, he became an Honorary Freeman of the City – the highest honour a council can bestow upon an individual.

It was his involvement with the Scouts that saw him committed to the highest principles of the Scouting Movement, in which he actively participated, at every level, for more than 55 years.

“I first became a volunteer when my favourite organisation (at that time), the First Ringwood Scout Group, suddenly had no scout leader, and although I was too young to be an official leader, I realised that if I did not do the job, the group would disappear,” he said. 

“As the only Scout Group in Ringwood, we quickly grew to over 150 members, with an equal number on the waiting list, which became the basis for other scout groups to be formed in the Ringwood area.”

Although, it was the love and kindness shown by the local community following a family tragedy that demonstrated to him early on the remarkable power of the human spirit.

“My father was a volunteer fireman in Ringwood and died while on that job in the early years of WW2. My family was taken to the heart of the Ringwood community, and we were supported and maintained largely by the generosity of all the community organisations in our town.

“The family was drawn into the web of community organisations and we all continued with these organisations (and other new ones) as we grew into adulthood.

“We felt that we had a debt to repay the people of Ringwood for supporting our family when we were desperate and destitute, so that, when our own children were growing up, we encouraged them to join service organisations and seek employment and training that would be of help to the general community in the future,” he said.

In June 2013, Mr Wilkins was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the City of Maroondah.

The Bill Wilkins Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented at next year’s Volunteer Recognition Function ceremony, to be held in December 2019.

Further information on the award nomination process will be available later in 2019.

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