Picture caption: Les and Gloria Brown picture at Eric Mobbs Reserve.
Marilyn Stoneham, Max Roughley and Les and Gloria Brown are all celebrating a big milestone.
The Hills Shire Council volunteers have each given more than 40 years of service to their local community.
Marilyn first began volunteering as a coach for the Castle Hill RSL Gazelles Netball Club, before taking on the role as publicity officer, which included taking Saturdays results to The Farm and Garden Newspaper on a Sunday morning. Their office was located on Old Northern Road, in Castle Hill.
From there, Marilyn was part of a group that initiated the Castle Hill Sports and Recreation Club, which eventually became known as the Green and White Gazelles Netball Club. Marilyn coached a team there for many years, as well as formed the first Hills married woman’s netball team.
Marilyn has also given her time to Meals on Wheels, the Ladies Auxiliary at Castle Hill Public School, the Hills Amateur Swimming Club, Computer Pals, Justice of the Peace, and the Heritage Park and Castle Hill Showground 355 Committees.
She also ran the Castle Hill Neighbourhood Watch for an incredible 30 years.
Marilyn said volunteering came naturally to her.
“It’s in my blood,” she said.
“I find volunteering very rewarding as it makes me feel part of this community. I also enjoy meeting and creating friendships with likeminded people through my volunteer work,” she added.
Meanwhile, Max began volunteering with Council in 1984, working on the committee that helped to restore Roughley House. Max is a direct descendant of the Roughley family, who lived in the historical house, which was built in 1856.
He has also volunteered with other organisations including Hills Shire Community Care Gardening.
Max continues to volunteer at the Visitor Information Centre, sharing his family history with those who tour the historic property, located in Dural.
“There are so many rewards at Roughley House and the Visitor Information Centre. I get to meet with and talk to people, particularly on house tours,” Max said.
He encouraged others to begin their volunteering journey.
“I would say that taking the first step is probably the hardest because you have to motivate yourself to sign-up,” Max said.
“People have preconceived ideas of what the experience is going to be, but I can say to people who are considering it: make the step, get involved and you’ll find that you do enjoy it and that you’ll want to keep doing it,” Max added.
And husband and wife volunteer duo Les and Gloria have more than 90-years’ worth of volunteering experience between them.
Les began volunteering after Council put out a call, asking for volunteer rangers to look after Eric Mobbs Reserve. From there, he held various positions on the Eric Mobbs Reserve 355 Committee, including Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. He is now actively involved with Birds Australia, monitoring the endangered Powerful Owl colony that lives within the Castle Hill Reserve.
Gloria, who used to own a nursery business, signed-up for Bushcare and was also a member of the Eric Mobbs Reserve 355 Committee.
The coupled worked hard to raise funds for the Reserve, including raising enough to build a children’s playground with swings, seating, irrigation, concrete pathways and barbecue facilities.
Gloria said “volunteering was so rewarding”.
While she has contributed so much to her local community, her proudest achievement as a volunteer was planting thousands of trees at Eric Mobbs Reserve, which now provide shade and also shelter for native wildlife.
“There is a concrete pathway where we planted an avenue of eucalypts. They were seedlings when we planted them and now years later they have grown up and formed a beautiful archway over the pathway,” she said.
For Les, he found volunteering as a way of meeting new people and making life-long friends.
“You don’t volunteer for rewards or the desire for recognition. It’s the people you meet that make you want to continue to do it. It’s just so rewarding,” Les added.
Les and Gloria also held a Clean Up Australia Day event at Eric Mobbs Reserve.
While the couple continue to actively volunteer with Council, they also enjoy walking their dog, “Georgie Girl”, and Les continues to “keep an eye” on the Reserve, making sure it remains a much-loved place for generations to come.
“We are truly blessed to have this Reserve and these magnificent birds in our area, and Les enjoys sharing his knowledge and photos with others,” Gloria added.
Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Michelle Byrne congratulated Marilyn, Max, Gloria and Les on their efforts.
“Max, Marilyn, Gloria and Les are incredible people who have given so much of their time and knowledge to educating and helping others in this community,” Mayor Byrne said.
“It is wonderful to see how much they love to give back to The Hills, and I thank them for their ongoing support,” Mayor Byrne added.
Mayor Byrne also thanked volunteers during a recent civic reception, held at The Hills Shire Council.
“Our volunteers are one of the most valuable resources in our Shire and its thanks to them that we can impact the lives of so many people in a positive way,” she said.
“All of our volunteers put in an incredible effort and as a result create a welcoming and generous Hills Shire community.
“I highly encourage others to begin their volunteering journey. We have many programs, including our Bushcare, Justice of the Peace, our Youth Army, Community Care and committee groups where residents can take their first leap into volunteering, whilst also learning a new skill and meeting other likeminded people in the process,” Mayor Byrne added.
For more information on Council’s Volunteer Program, visit The Hills Shire Council website, www.thehills.nsw.gov.au and search “volunteering” in the search bar. You can also find volunteering opportunities through NSW Volunteering, www.volunteering.nsw.gov.au.
Picture caption: Marilyn Stoneham (on the left).
Picture caption: Max Roughley pictured at Roughley House.