Residents recognised for their commitment to the community

Paul Jewell accepts his Certificate of Recognition. Credit: YARRA RANGES LIFE LIVE STREAM.

By Callum Ludwig

Several local organisations, businesses and people have received certificates of recognition at the Yarra Ranges Council 2022 Australia Day awards for their work within the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley community.

David Jewell received a certificate for his IT support at Burrinja Cultural Centre, where he has assisted with technology and infrastructure upgrades for over 23 years. Mr Jewell has helping to improve the experience for visitors and community members through his work.

Mr Jewell has helped facilitate 20,000 tickets being purchased annually and guided Burrinja Cultural Centre’s services efficiently and effectively.

Beyond his work with Burrinja, Mr Jewell has offered his services to the wider community, with the Anglican Church in Tecoma, the Sherbrooke University of the Third Age and Belgrave Heights Christian School all benefitting from his generosity and assistance.

Mr Jewell’s volunteer IT support is estimated to have provided more than $40,000 worth of services to Burrinja Cultural Centre alone.

Yarra Ranges Council Mayor Jim Child said Mr Jewell is a key cog in keeping the Ferntree Gully and Dandenong Ranges community running smoothly.

“Without people like David, the hills would in some ways literally grind to a halt.” Mayor Child said.

Luke Pedley received a certificate because of volunteer support during the June 2021 storms.

Alongside a group of volunteers, Mr Pedley set up The Hangout, a place where those affected by the storms could feel safe, connect with and share the company of others, and warm themselves by a fire that ran every hour of every day for an astonishing three weeks.

Mr Pedley worked with community groups, volunteers and council to provide a sense of connection and humanity in one of the most devastating storms in Victoria’s history, even paying for food, drinks and a barbecue out of his own pocket before Repco and other suppliers stepped in to fund the effort.

Mayor Child believes Mr Pedley, his wife Tracey, his family and the small group of volunteers should all be commended for their efforts.

“The selflessness and caring evident in The Hangout is something Luke should be extremely proud of,” Mayor Child said.

“We’re thrilled to present Luke with this Certificate of Recognition, and proud to have him in our community.”

Upwey Pizza was recognised for going above and beyond what is expected of a local business by giving back to their community who faced the difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Upwey Pizza owners became well known for their willingness to pay it forward for their own customers, as well as supplying food to soup kitchens each week.

They have also supported local schools, sporting and recreational clubs through food, sponsorships and awards.

Mayor Child said the award reflects what Upwey Pizza gave to the community.

“The kindness and generosity shown by the Upwey pizza team is worthy of this certificate of recognition.” mayor Child said.

Emerald CFA captain Paul Yandle and his Help for the Hills Dandenong Ranges taskforce were recognised for their important role in helping the community still affected by the June storms.

Mr Yandle, utilising his 21 years of leadership, gathered a 200-strong skilled workforce for the Help for the Hills emergency response effort.

The diverse group was able to bring together chainsaw experience, truck and machinery donations, funding and time, with 125 storm-impacted properties being cleared over 3500 volunteer hours.

Mayor Child said the efforts undertaken by Mr Yandle and Help for the Hills has made a world of difference for people impacted by the June storms.

“We’ve seen over the years that disaster can bring out the best in people,” Mayor Child said.

“A willingness to lend a hand, listen and help, putting others ahead of yourself, and caring and creating a safety to catch others going through some of the worst times of their lives. Paul and the wider Help for the Hills group’s work is a perfect example of this.”

Plans are currently underway to reform the taskforce ahead of the 2022 bush fire season.