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 COVER STORY: Pillars of the community 

COVER STORY: Pillars of the community

06 Sep, 2010 11:09 AM
Welcoming places and friendly faces make bayside a great place to live. Henrietta Cook talks to some of the area’s living treasures about their role in the area and why they love doing what they do.


When he’s not monitoring starfi sh species at Rickett’s Point, Marine Care president Ray Lewis, OAM, 74, runs the world’s largest website for seniors. I have had a strong interest in marine matters all my life, but when I moved to bayside I saw an opportunity to help and joined Rickett’s Point Marine Care, and a year later was made president. We dive throughout the winter – how many people do that? We are committed people, living life. We look at changes in the marine environment over the season and look for exotic species and watch the movement of major creatures like golden pot-bellied seals. I think Bayside Council is quite outstanding, I like the accessibility to services in the area, the natural environment, both marine and land-based, and the proactiveness of the community and the people.


John Locco has braved the icy waters of Brighton almost every day since 1973. The founder of Icebergers open water swimming club is a familiar face in the community; he taught at Elwood Secondary College for 11 years and was mayor of Brighton in 1992 and 1993. I have lived in Brighton all my life. Why would I live anywhere else? I have access to water and a fresh supply of air. In 1980 Brighton Council wanted to attack the area’s swimming culture by destroying the sea baths, so I decided to do something about it and ran a campaign. Their decision to destroy the baths was a short-sighted fi nancial decision; it was going to save each ratepayer 16 cents on their rate notice. I became a city councillor and then mayor and oversaw the decision to reconstruct the baths. I founded Icebergers in 1990 with a good friend of mine, Robert Hooper, and we established a culture of open water swimming. We swim every lunchtime and on weekends at eight in the morning and four o’clock in the afternoon. There’s a real social aspect to the group, and swimming in cold water has great physiological benefi ts. It turns on your metabolism, you sleep like baby and you can eat like a horse without putting on weight.


Willy: I’ve worked here as a guide for 18 or 19 years. It’s not a joyful job, but I feel I have to pass on my personal experience of living under Nazi government in Poland for six years. I tell my stories to students from school, and pass on to them what happens if we are not careful and become victims of hating people. I have friends that are survivors but they are getting fewer and fewer. Only a week ago one of our other volunteer guides passed away. I live in Elsternwick and have been living here for more than 60 years. You come to an area, you like it, and you stay there. Irma: When my husband died I decided I had to do something. I took the course here on how to be a guide and I have been telling my story here for 15 years. I’m frightened to say history can repeat itself, we are living in dangerous times again. I came to Australia in 1949 from Germany after living in a concentration camp. After being liberated I wanted to go to Israel but my auntie said: ‘‘I’ve already got you out of one war, I’m not letting you go into another one’’. I live in Caulfi eld South and I’m very traditional and keep Jewish holidays, but I’m not so religious. I eat once a week at Elsternwick RSL and go to the Classic or Brighton Bay for fi lms.Willy Lermer, 87, and Irma Hanner, 80, are Holocaust survivors who volunteer at the Jewish Holocaust Centre. They share their stories with visitors in the hope that history never repeats itself.


It’s not uncommon for Brighton residents to walk into Top Titles on Church Street with the intention of buying a book, but an hour later fi nd themselves chatting to owner Jean Eric Menard about politics, novels and travel stories. I am from Brittany and I used to work for a big hotel in Paris called Concorde Lafayette. People who worked with me would talk about coming to Australia, so I decided to come here for three years – but I stayed. I loved the shop the fi rst time I stepped inside, I could see exactly what I could do there. I believe my job is to make children read; I believe if you don’t teach children to love books when they are young then they won’t be a reader. In a world where technology takes so much time off young children, this is a perfect balance for them. I have helped parents with little children who are now teenagers. The shop is a place where people meet because of its position; it’s like a little village. I think my French accent probably helps a little bit. I recommend books a lot because I read a lot, maybe three books per week.


Long-term bayside resident Jeanette Brown has worked in adult education for almost 20 years, and recently took over the coveted position of CEO of Sandybeach Centre in Sandringham. I get a real satisfaction out of seeing people achieve their goals, whether they be vocational, professional or personal goals. At Sandybeach Centre we deal with a lot of people who have experienced different things in their lives; some have lost their jobs, some have to be retrained. It is also about providing a place where all may participate in learning opportunities, cultural activities and support services to enhance their quality of life. I am really pleased to now be part of this exciting, vibrant and professional centre. Over the years I’ve worked with families who have moved from different countries and have English as a second language. They have to learn a new language and settle in a new country. Many have had enormous barriers to overcome. The resilience of these people is amazing. I’ve been living in Cheltenham for 16 years now. Before that we were in Hampton. I’ve been brought up in this area and I love the proximity to the bay. It’s a lovely area with a combination of shopping centres and services.


Gun full-forward Nick Sautner, 33, has played 200 games with Sandringham and is adored by local VFL fans. Sautner is Etihad stadium’s general manager of commercial business and the football club’s record goal kicker with 831 goals to his name. It has been an amazing journey and the club will always remain in my heart. When I refl ect on my career, I hope history will judge me and my achievements in a positive light. I intend to continue to balance my work, family, study, community and sporting commitments at the highest level for as long as possible. I love the camaraderie of playing with a diverse range of personalities and age groups. Football keeps you involved in the community; we have supporters that range from little children to past greats. There are volunteers associated with the club who have been there for 30 or 40 years. I have helped contribute to making Sandringham the benchmark club in the competition. I have met so many great people who have touched and infl uenced my life through Sandringham Football Club and we will remain friends for life.

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Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis
Jean Eric Menard
Jean Eric Menard
Jeanette Brown
Jeanette Brown
John Locco
John Locco
Nick Sautner
Nick Sautner

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