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Star Volunteers: Volunteers of Meredith

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Monday, 7 May 2018 - 4:15pm

In the lead up to Volunteer Week (21–27 May), Golden Plains Shire Council will be sharing information about some of the Shire’s amazing volunteers who embody this year’s Volunteer Week theme, ‘Give a little, change a lot’. The volunteers we are profiling have given so much more than a little; the underlying message of the theme is that often small efforts (in the grand scheme of things), can yield significant positive change.

Today we celebrate some of the incredibly dedicated volunteers of Meredith.

Advance Meredith

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The members of Advance Meredith, a group dedicated to the improvement of Meredith, are gems of Golden Plains. Originally set up as the ‘Town Team’ in 1997, members were elected to form a working group that would lead and implement an exciting improvement plan for Meredith over three years.

The original stars of the group were Diane Ritchie, who agreed to be Chairman; Jean Dunstan, who agreed to be Secretary, with the support of June and Neil Cameron, Marg Cooper (Council’s Citizen of the Year, 2018), Lyndsay Fink, Kevin Parkinson, Max Heard, Gerald Dupe and Pat Dodson.

Golden Plains Shire Council gave the group $5,000 for the three-year project. This money was used to put up welcoming signs at the entry to Meredith, erect tree guards, plant trees and shrubs in the township and produce three town calendars. The Town Team did incredible work throughout the transformational three-year project, but their efforts didn’t stop there.

The group have changed their name to ‘Advance Meredith’ and continue to work and plan to improve Meredith and to make it an even greater place to live and visit.

Diane Ritchie is still the Chairman and several original members are still part of the working group!

Diane Ritchie

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Diane came to Meredith in 1985 and has been a volunteer in Meredith for many years. She became President of the Parents and Friends Association and instigated the Country Festival in 1986, which ran as a successful fundraiser for the State School for a number of years.

Diane was the driving force in getting netball up and running in Meredith, was Secretary of the Recreation Reserve for nine years, and is also very involved in the Catholic Church (she is Chair of the Parish Council and Parish Co-ordinator for Meredith, Anakie, Bannockburn, Inverleigh and Winchelsea).

Diane was the first and only woman elected to the former Bannockburn Shire Council. She also instigated ‘Rose Day’, which raised money for the town for many years and has been President of Advance Meredith since 1997 – much of the beautification of the town is due to her vision and energy. Thank you Diane.

Hilary and John Reading

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Hilary and John Reading have been volunteering in Meredith for around four years. 

Hilary was at a soap-making course at the Meredith Community House in 2014 when she overheard someone mention that St Joseph’s Op Shop in Meredith needed helpers – she immediately offered to run the shop! Hilary is supported by her husband John, who she has dubbed as an ‘involuntary volunteer’ because the pair live at Mt Doran and Hilary doesn’t drive!

Hilary and John sort, wash, repair, display, collect and deliver items (the list goes on) and have grown the business hugely over the last four years. They are now helped every Wednesday and Friday when the shop is open, by Peter and Anne from Teesdale.

Hilary and John enjoy meeting people and making people happy, and that’s exactly what they do.

Golden Plains Shire Council is so grateful for Hilary and John’s ongoing service to the Meredith community – thank you Hilary and John.

Dawn Macdonald

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Dawn came to Meredith to live after she married in 1965. She had three children and instigated the Kindergarten in Meredith. She has been an extremely active volunteer over the years, having been:

  • Secretary of Country Women’s Association 
  • A Red Cross member,
  • Organ player at the Meredith Anglican Church (since 1976) and the Meredith Catholic Church (for the last 24 years)
  • Parents and Friends Association member, including a term as President
  • Meredith Community Centre member (for many years)
  • Meredith Newsletter Committee team member (for many years)
  • Cemetery Trust member
  • One of the first Guide Leaders in Meredith.

It is clear to see that Dawn is passionate about her community; her dedication over the years is well worth recognition. Thank you, Dawn.

Mary Foster

Mary has been volunteering for Meredith and the district for more than a decade and her efforts deserve to be acknowledged.

Around 12 years ago, Mary heard that the local policeman was trying to put a team of volunteers together who would be trained to attend and give aid to people in Meredith, who needed an ambulance. As nursing was Mary’s career choice had she not married and had a family, the idea of being able to help her community in a health sense appealed to her greatly, so she went along to an information meeting and discovered that a pilot group was being formed as part of Ambulance Victoria.

10 community members completed the initial training and the Meredith Community Emergency Team began operation in mid-2007. When someone in the district rings for an ambulance, team members are paged and then dispatched to give care until the ambulance arrives.

The team averages between one and two calls per week, although they have had as many as three calls in one day. Their training is ongoing and every 12 months they are required to be reaccredited in CPR & DEFIB and also Pharmacology before they are issued with ‘Authority to Practice’.

The team has a 24-hour roster (two 12-hour shifts), seven days a week and they do their best to cover all shifts. The team’s callout area spans from Lethbridge to Shelford, to Lal Lal and Beremboke.

Mary said, “It is a large area to cover and at present we have only nine practising members, some work full-time, some part-time and some are retired. We will gladly welcome new members to our group who are happy to serve their community in this way.” Residents interested in volunteering can contact Group Leader, Martin Peters on 0417823965.

The Meredith Community Emergency Team are part of a most important community resource and Council is grateful to Mary and everyone involved.

National Volunteer Week is the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers.

Learn more about Volunteer Week

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Page Last Updated:

Monday, 7 May 2018 - 4:19pm


Council acknowledges the traditional Wadawurrung owners of this land. Council pays its respects to Wadawurrung Elders both past and present and extends that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who are part of Golden Plains Shire.