Honorary Freeman of the City
The Honorary Freeman of the City Award recognises the outstanding achievements and dedicated service to the community by a person over their lifetime.
The Freeman of the City Award is the highest honour a Council can bestow upon an individual.
History of the award
The traditional honour of a Freeman of the City dates back to English medieval times. It is derived from a historic English custom where Freemen paid fees to local boroughs, which entitled them to trade in the City. The Freeman was also allowed other special privileges, such as the right to sit on town councils and to elect parliamentary representatives.
Over time, the honour of Freeman of the City has become a distinction where a Council officially recognises a resident who makes an outstanding contribution to the local community over many years, either through Council or community groups such as charities or sporting and recreational clubs.
Each Freeman receives an Illuminated Address under the Seal of Council recognising their achievements and their receipt of this distinction.
During it's four year term, Council will undertake a review of potential candidates biennially (every second year) or on any other occasion if brought forward directly by a Councillor (initially at a Councillor Briefing) with any subsequent recommendations being submitted to an Ordinary Meeting of Council for consideration.
- Eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service of the Maroondah community.
- Long-term Maroondah residency (past or present).
Recipients of the award
Mr Bernie Capicchiano
Conferred on 19 June 2023
Bernie is the Founder and Owner of Bernies Music Land from 1977. The store is still a family business today.
He has been a major Sponsor of The Ringwood Eisteddfod since 1984, President from 2016 and Vice President from 2005 to 2016. The Eisteddfod has assisted thousands of music students to perform and receive a critique from top adjudicators in Australia and caters for a wide variety of disciplines.
The Ringwood Eisteddfod was the Winner of the Maroondah Australia Day ‘Community Event of the Year’ in 2022 and the Deakin ‘Community Event of the Year’ in 2021.
Bernie has been a Member and an Event Sponsor of Ringwood Chamber of Commerce from 1992 and Vice President from 1996 to 2004.
He has been a Member of the Australian Music Association since1997, was President from 2008 to 2013 and Treasurer in 2002.
He was a Board Member of Australian New Zealand Cultural Arts Inc Ltd (ANZCA) from 2005 to 2010.
Bernie was presented with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) award in 2018.
Dr Graeme Lorimer
Conferred on 19 June 2023
Graeme has been the convenor of the Friends of Bungalook Conservation Reserve in Kilsyth South since 1988.
He was a Fellow of the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand, Federal Councillor from 1994 to 1998 and President, Secretary and Committee Member during the 1990’s.
Graeme is the Author and Lead Researcher of ‘Sites of Biological Signiﬁcance in Maroondah’ 1995 to 1997. He is also the author of ‘Biodiversity in Maroondah’ Volume 1 and 2, 2018 to 2020.
Since 2001, Graeme has been the Founder, Principal and Owner of Biosphere Pty Ltd, a business that focuses on ecology, botany and air quality assessment.
Graeme has been a Member of the federal Peer Review Committee for the Ambient Air National Environment Protection Measure from 1998 to 2010.
He is an Honorary Research Associate of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria, and was a Member of the Maroondah Environment Advisory Committee from 2016 to 2019.
He has been President of the Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association since 2015, Vice President from 1988 to 1991 and Treasurer from 2017 to 2018.
Graeme was the Winner of the Maroondah Australia Day ‘Citizen of the Year’ award in 2018 and was the winner of the Bill Wilkins Volunteer Award in 2020.
Conferred on 18 April 2016
Anne has dedicated her life to community service through a love of tennis and concerns for the wellbeing of young people.
She was awarded a Life Membership of the Ringwood Uniting Church Tennis Club in 1979; having served 17 years as President, 4 years as Vice-President, 5 years as Secretary, 9 years as a Committee Member, 23 years on the Selection Committee and 50 years as Junior Convenor.
In October 2013 Anne was presented with Tennis Victoria’s ‘Tennis Service Award’ for her long service to tennis in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.
Further recognition was given by the Tennis Association with the introduction of the ‘Anne Hubbard Perpetual Trophy’, which is presented annually to the Club with the best overall performance over the summer/winter seasons.
Anne is a long serving and dedicated member of Ringwood Uniting Church, assisting and providing support to the Outreach Working Group, Social Activities, providing meals for bereaved and/or ill people, working in the church garden, member of Church Council, Pastoral Partner to five church members, Friendship Centre driver and providing catering duties.
She has had over thirty years service with Biala Ringwood as a volunteer, day convenor and committee member. Biala commenced as an outreach program of Ringwood Uniting Church in 1981 and provides respite care for the parents young children who have a physical and/or intellectual disability.
In 2014 Anne was named Maroondah Australia Day Citizen of the Year.
Mr Brian Coopersmith OAM (deceased)
Conferred on 18 April 2016
Brian began his career in the 1940s by completing his carpentry apprenticeship under his father Harry. During the 50s and 60s the Coopersmith Group built houses and did extensions.
In the early 1960s Brian was asked by a client to build a factory, and this was the beginning of his commercial building career. Over the last 14 years, together with his son Brett, they have built and own many commercial sites in Maroondah..
He has been a major donor to the Maroondah Sports Club Ltd, and has been the President of the Club since 1982. He was also the Coordinator and Chair of the Yarra Valley Grammar School Fête Team in the 1980s.
As a Life Member of East Ringwood Football Club he has served in various roles since 1959 as a player, committee member, President, Vice President, Recruiting Manager and major fundraiser. He is also a Life Member of the Eastern District Football League. A former member of the Maroondah Business Advisory Board, Brian’s contribution was invaluable as a successful businessman himself.
In the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2010, Brian was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of his service to the community of Maroondah.
Mr Robert McDiarmid (deceased)
Conferred on 17 September 2007
Bob was an active member of the Heathmont Branch of the Australian Red Cross from 1965 (and Chairman of the unit from 1998) and was instrumental in raising in excess of $250,000 for the organisation.
He was also a presenter of a monthly, half-hour program on community radio station, Eastern FM 98.1 for the last five years of his career, which allowed him to maintain the Red Cross’ profile — focusing on Red Cross activities on a local, national and international scale.
As an active member of the Eastern Suburbs Masonic Lodge for more than 62 years, Bob was instrumental in the establishment of a tutoring service for students in English and mathematics in the eastern region, providing assistance for students from years 6 to 12.
Mr George Pile (deceased)
Conferred on 18 June 2001
George was an accountant, chartered secretary and licensed company’s auditor, practicing in Croydon from 1948. He was also integral in petitioning for Severance for Croydon from the Shire of Lillydale, commencing in 1957 and achieving success in 1961 to become Croydon Shire Council.
George was a Councillor at Croydon Shire Council from 1965 to 1970 and was Shire President from 1967 to 1968. He then served as a Councillor at the City of Croydon from 1971 to 1974, 1984 to 1986 and one term as Mayor from 1976 to 1977.
George was a founding member of the Croydon Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 1951, serving terms as both secretary and president. He was also an active member of the Croydon Historical Society, serving as president and auditor – further contributing to the preservation of local history through the publication of Bush ‘Town to City’, a personal recollection of the development of Croydon through the 1950s and 70s.
Mr William (Bill) Wilkins OAM
Conferred on 20 June 1994 by the former Ringwood City Council and confirmed by Maroondah City Council on 7 April 1997
Bill was a Councillor at the City of Ringwood from February 1977 until August 1989, Mayor from 1985 to 1986, and was dedicated to the idea of representing the community fairly and impartially while striving for excellence in the establishment of services and facilities to benefit the community.
Bill was involved with the Scouts, committed to the highest principles of the Scouting Movement and actively participating in the Scouts (at every level) for more than 55 years. He also had links to the sporting community — a member and office bearer of the East Ringwood Cricket Club for 45 years and member and executive of the Ringwood District Cricket Association for 22 years, working for a number of years to establish and promote underage cricket throughout the district.
Bill had numerous other links to the community, including:
- President of Lionsbrae
- An active member of Ringwood Secondary College (serving on the College Council for many years)
- Founder and organiser of Ringwood’s Blue Light Disco
- Life member of the Eastern Suburban Churches Umpires Association
- Patron of the Ringwood Early Planning for Retirement Group
- Friend and provider of practical assistance to Warrawong Day Care Kindergarten
- Member of the Bedford Park Youth Hall and user groups committees.
In June 2013, Bill was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his Services to the City of Maroondah.
Dame Phyllis Frost (deceased)
Conferred on 5 June 1989 by the former Croydon City Council and confirmed by Maroondah City on 7 April 1997
Dame Phyllis Frost’s life was one of extraordinary achievement. Taking on campaigns to change long established practices and succeeding through sheer determination. She was the driving force for reform of women’s prison conditions; initiating the Keep Australia Beautiful Campaign; steering Victorians through natural disasters; and commencing the Australian Branch of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign.
She was involved with many organisations and over time was Chairman, Life Member or Patron of over 50 organisations – and was highly active in raising millions of dollars for these causes.
Her honours include:
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) – 1963
- Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) – 1974, for outstanding service to the community
- Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) – 1992
- Senior Australian of the Year Award – Australia Day Council – 1997
- Centenary of Federation Medal – 2001, for long and dedicated voluntary service to welfare at local, state and national levels
- Re-dedication of Deer Park Women’s Correctional Centre as the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre – 2001
- State funeral in recognition of a lifetime of dedication to the welfare of others
Mr Alan Robertson (deceased)
Conferred on 23 May 1988 by the former Ringwood City Council and confirmed by Maroondah City Council on 7 April 1997
Alan has been recognised for his outstanding service to local government, serving as a staff member from 1947 to 1988, working as an engineer for Council from 1958 to 1987 and working as the municipality’s first Chief Executive Officer from 1983 to 1988.
Alan oversaw significant planning and development stages and was instrumental in forming key Council policies. His pursuit of excellence in management and his entrepreneurial approach to decision making allowed him to impact the wider arena of local government at state and national levels – in particularly in areas of engineering and town planning. In 1984 Alan was the Inaugural Recipient of Cedric Tuxton Medal for Engineering Excellence in Local Government and in 1993, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his Services to Engineering and Local Government.