Committee Awards

Handbury Award 2019

Amanda King

Australian Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens - 'For exceptional dedication to fostering the cause of botanic gardens through long-term volunteering and at a national level'


Nomination of Amanda King for the 2019 Handbury Award for an exceptional contribution by an individual member to their Botanic Garden.

Mandy King has been a member of the Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens for 22 years and Secretary for 21 of them. She took over at short notice in 1998 intending to step down at the AGM, but instead continued and took on the workload associated with hosting the 1999 conference of the Victorian Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens, for which she was congratulated on her exceptional secretarial duties.

In the years since her remarkable talents have enabled the Friends and the Gardens to keep abreast of technology and excel in communication.

Her initiatives include:-

Compiling a data base and grid reference along with labelling for plants in the Gardens.

Designing and producing an informative and promotional brochure.

Creating a web site for the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens and linking the Friends of the Gardens within

She has maintained this web site and up loaded all information relating to the Gardens along with Committee Minutes, Newsletters and relevant information, events, etc.

Used her photographic skill to design cards featuring the Gardens.

Initiated an on line data base and tree identification enabling a virtual walk through the Gardens.

Produced a full colour version of the Friends quarterly Newsletter.

Championing the installation of a fully automated watering system within the Gardens

Mandy knows our members and cares for their welfare. She is dedicated to the protection and promotion of our Guilfoyle Garden and has written numerous articles in its defense. In this last year she has spent hundreds of hours meeting the demands of Heritage Victoria and the obligations to Pick my Project in an effort to establish a nature based play area in the Gardens.

The Friends recognised her exceptional contribution in 2007 by conferring Life Membership.

As a committee member of the association of Friends of Botanic Gardens she undertook the four hour drive to Melbourne on a regular basis and ensured that Warrnambool was well abreast of any new developments. She also established the web page for the Association.

There could be no better advocate for the Gardens, no more reliable “Friend” than Mandy King.

Note  Over the thirty years of their existence The Friends have made a huge contribution to Warrnambool Botanic Gardens, both financially, educationally and philosophically. A contribution to The Friends is a contribution to the Gardens.


Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victorian Senior Achiever Awards 2018.

President Pat Varley and Vice President Janet Macdonald

Pat Varley

AGE: 85 years

280 Merri St

Warrnambool VIC 3280

How does the nominee make a difference to community wellbeing through their volunteering and service to social, cultural or civic life?

Speaking with Pat is an encounter with wisdom and grace. Conversation comes easily to Pat as she is warm, interested in other people and has broad interests. Her passions include education, gardening and protection of heritage assets. Pat is in her eighth decade of life and currently holds a membership with the following groups:

- Friends of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens (FWBG); 2018 President

- Friends of Swan Reserve - Native Australian Plant Garden

- Warrnambool and District Historic Society - Committee Member

- Friends of the Warrnambool Art Gallery

- Dry Stone Wall Association of Australia; an organisation that advocates for the protection, restoration, maintenance and promotion of Australia's dry stone walls.

- Kurri Kurri Co-operative Society; a group of shareholders in a 32 hectare parcel of land that is a protected as a haven for Australian wildlife.

- South West TAFE Foundation

- University of Melbourne Alumni

The above list is a summary of the breadth of Pat’s involvement and is an indication of the extent of her contribution to the social and cultural fabric of the Warrnambool Community. All of Pat’s roles and contributions are voluntary and given with generosity.

Pat is the current President of the FWBG and has held multiple terms in this role since becoming a Committee Member in the late 1990’s. Throughout her time on the Committee, Pat has been a consistent advocate for WBG. Her long and distinguished career in secondary and tertiary education in Warrnambool and her gentle, intelligent and reasoned approach to all matters has meant that she is an effective campaigner, who is respected by those she seeks to influence.

Pat has championed many causes relating to the Gardens and her achievements have been significant. She effectively lobbied Warrnambool City Council to employ a fully qualified curator. Having achieved that, Warrnambool is now in the situation where the relationship between Gardens Staff, the City Council and the Friends group has never been more positive.

One of the Gardens’ assets is the cannon, formerly part of Victoria’s coastal defence system, relocated to the Gardens in 2010. Pat co-ordinated the process of removal of the original gun carriage of the canon for protection of the wood, an liaised with the Triton Woodworkers, a retired men’s hobby group, who constructed a replica carriage. Other local businesses were involved with providing expert technical assistance, metal fabrication and transport of components. Pat was project manager, who negotiated with the regional heritage advisor and bringing the various community, philanthropists and commercial groups together to achieve a successful restoration at the end of 2010.

Another major WBG project has been the Well & Water Project. Again, Pat was at the forefront of a plan to restore the well which was used in late C19th to provide water for the gardens. Pat applied for a grant from Wannon Water to assist with concept planning and negotiated with Heritage Victoria to undertake this project. The Well has been restored and helps tell the story of the way people lived in the City’s past, how water usage has changed over time and highlight the need to manage this resource carefully in the future.

Pat composes the quarterly newsletter which is full of interesting articles frequently researched and written by her. For the past twenty years Pat has been a volunteer guide, working with volunteers to conduct free guided walks. Pat loves working with school children and is always on hand for school tours of the Gardens. She uses a wide and entertaining range of games and activities to stimulate interest and educate children. She plays Billy Goats Gruff on the bridge with young kids while explaining to older students that “these trees are so old they are older than me!”

Under Pat’s guidance many children, their teachers and preschool carers have been introduced to playing amongst the Moreton Bay Fig tree roots, around the lake and feeding the ducks in the Gardens. She established a relationship with South West Diploma of Children’s Services students and teachers, who now regularly use the Gardens as a classroom.

The 2017 WBG Masterplan showcases the heritage features of the Guilfoyle designed garden that Pat has worked for over two decades to protect.

Good standing in the community

Pat is well respected in the Warrnambool Community where she spent the majority of her professional career working in Tertiary Education. In 1970, Pat was a foundation member of staff at the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education (WIAE) and continued through the merger with Deakin University in 1990 and advanced her career from Senior Lecturer in Education, to Professor and Head of School (Community, Rural and Distance Education) and Deputy Chair of the Academic Board at Deakin in 1995.

Pat was one of a small group of women in lead roles at Deakin University and community volunteering in her time.

Positive attitude to ageing inspires others

Pat has been contributing to the social, cultural and civic assets in the City of Warrnambool for over five decades! She continues to contribute to our community in strategic ways and drawing others along with her. Age is not a barrier for Pat – instead it enables her to be most amazing community asset and resource.

Nominated by Geraldine Moloney

Letters of support:

- Alistair McCosh, Director, Warrnambool Campus, Office of the Vice-Chancellor

- Letter of support from Mandy King, Secretary Friends of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens

- News articles: 1,2,3,4

- Photo: Accepting Honorary Doctorate from Khon Kaen University - from Thai Royalty and photo of Doctorate from Khon Kaen University Thailand


Janet Macdonald

AGE: 64 years

109 Banyan Street,

Warrnambool VIC 3280

How does the nominee make a difference to community wellbeing through their volunteering and service to social, cultural or civic life?

Janet is a generous volunteer who contributes to the richness of the social and cultural tapestry of Warrnambool through her leadership roles in four important community groups:

I. Warrnambool & District Historical Society

II. Friends of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens

III. Warrnambool Art Gallery Foundation

IV. Friends of the Warrnambool Art Gallery

As current President of the Warrnambool & District Historical Society and past Vice-President and Committee Member for many years, Janet has contributed to the modernisation of the Society’s operations and the upgrading of its accommodation, including helping to forge a cooperative arrangement between the Historical Society and the Warrnambool Family History Group. The two groups share a research centre, ‘HeritageWorks’, that holds a large collection of photographs, documents, books and artefacts which greatly benefits both members and the public. Janet prepares the Bulletin for members of the Historical Society which is witty, informative and strategic in content.

Janet is the current Vice President and immediate past President of the Friends of the Warrnambool Botanic Garden, and a Committee member since 2010. Janet has played an active role in all of the organisation’s endeavours including as one of the leaders in the 150th Anniversary Celebrations in 2016, which included a lavish gala event under the stars and a family fun day. As part of the Botanic Gardens birthday celebration, Janet suggested yarn bombing some of the tall palms would by a fitting way to attract attention to the Gardens. She figured the decorated trees would resonate with children who were familiar with the Truffula trees of the Dr Suess story The Lorax. Janet mobilised knitters from throughout the district from groups such as the CWA, wherein she personally sewed the pieces together, organised a crane and ensured timely completion. Janet is very creative, and also has the management skills to coordinate input from others and produce results.

As a founding member and Chair of the Warrnambool Art Gallery Foundation, Janet has worked with a small group of Trustees to invest Foundation funds in artworks that strengthen and extend the Gallery's permanent collection. Janet is also a member of the Friends of the Warrnambool Art Gallery who provide a vital link between the Gallery Staff and the broader community through attending events and exhibitions, fundraising and catering.

Janet is an effective communicator and is often the ‘go to’ person in these organisations as other members seek her advice and guidance. She has excellent broad general knowledge and uses sound process when making decisions that preserve or develop community assets. She is a team player, but is also an effective leader. She provides excellent support to other volunteers, especially young people, such as work experience students.

Janet continues to support young people in public speaking through volunteering her time to coach them to develop their skills and she coordinate sections of the Warrnambool Eisteddfod and Legacy Public Speaking Competitions.

House Music events take place in Warrnambool and they are where a small group of music enthusiast open their homes to other members of the community to enjoy a range of musical styles on a Sunday afternoon. Janet and a small group of friends open their homes and co-ordinate these events. Audience members pay an entry fee and walk to four different homes to enjoy the music and finish at one home for a glass of wine and other refreshments. Funds are raised for charity with the most recent event raising funds for those impacted by bushfire in our region in March 2018.

Good standing in the community

Janet is well respected in the Warrnambool Community where she spent the majority of her professional career as a senior secondary teacher and administrator. During this time it would be fair to say that Janet had a positive influence on the lives of thousands of young people in Warrnambool.

Since retirement from teaching, Janet has immersed herself in the arts and culture in Warrnambool and the community is so much richer for it.

Positive attitude to ageing inspires others

Janet’s age is relevant in so far as it has resulted in her accumulating wisdom, broad general knowledge and sophisticated skills in communication and teamwork to achieve outstanding development of cultural assets in Warrnambool.

She readily works with people of any age and has the ability to involve others in community activities and events as they wish.

Nominated by Pat Varley

Letters of support:

- Friends of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens

- Vanessa Gerrans, Director Warrnambool Art Gallery

- Sue Holcombe, long term friend


- Sample Warrnambool Historical Society Newsletter Bulletin

- Sample flyer; Friends of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens Project; showing Janet’s quirky sense of humour to attract knitters and children to help celebrate 150th birthday of the Gardens.

- News articles 1&2

- Photograph of Janet


Marie Johnstone National Volunteer Awards 2015

Long term commitment to community service.

Nominator – Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens

Nominee – Marie Johnstone

            26 years Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens.

            20 years fund raising ‘Save the Children’

1. Scope of the work

Marie was a foundation member of the FOWBG when it was established in 1989 to support Warrnambool’s bid for Premier Town. She has continued to serve on the committee ever since, including one term as President. She has been the historian, archivist, and research officer over that time and produced a booklet on “The History of the Friends 1989-2009”.

She has also worked for more than 20 years in the local group, fund raising for the charity “Save the Children.”

In addition, her informal volunteering has been consistent, caring and constant.

2. Impact of the work

In 1989 the Premier Town promotion Board considered the Gardens to be an undervalued resource. Twenty six years later those Gardens are on the National register and recognised as an outstanding Guilfoyle garden. Much of that is due to the work of the ‘Friends’ of whom Marie has been a constant strength. Her articles appear on the Friends website where the stories of the Gardens are recorded. She also maintains the “Friends” specialist library.

All Marie’s adult life has been committed to community service. During her many years as Warrnambool librarian she was always prepared to go beyond her official duties while in her private life she quietly assisted friends and associates in times of need such as ill health, ill fortune or old age. This kind of community contribution, while not organised or recorded, provides the social capital that makes Warrnambool great.

3. Amount of time dedicated

The quantifiable time for regular committee meetings alone  - say 2 hours, by 11 meetings p.a for 26 years is 572 hours. Over all that time Marie has acted as a volunteer guide taking groups on regular walks through the gardens. Time spent on research and writing    runs into many hundreds of hours as does visits to the ill, baking, catering and caring. –estimate 20 hours a week.

4. Effort required

This is a very subjective measure and our best volunteers tend to deny there is any effort. They make a quiet contribution. Marie has lived alone for many years, but she attended her mother and other relatives when they needed her and despite work and other demands on her time has always been a willing, competent and reliable member of the ‘Friends”.

E. Background Statement.

Marie has spent most of her life in Warrnambool. For much of that time she was Librarian at the City Library, now Corangamite Library.

For many years she lived with and cared for her mother until her death. Now retired, she continues to live in and maintain her family home and garden in central Warrnambool. Her strong family bonds have been evident in the care she has given to all members of her extended family.