We are delighted to announce our 2022 Community Legend Award finalists.

Thank you for submitting your nominations and votes for the greatest role model in Geelong this year – someone who selflessly volunteers their time and energy to mentor, help and inspire those around them.

Congratulations to all our worthy finalists.


Tuesday 4th October 2022.

Bobby Hayes

Geelong Soccer Club

Bobby has been a part of the Geelong Soccer Club for over 50 years, taking on a number of volunteer roles from serving as the club’s President to saving the club by leading it through a successful merger. He has provided assistance with cleaning, maintenance, senior and junior team match day coordination and fundraiser events. He has helped create a strong culture of inclusivity, and an environment where players of all ages and backgrounds can develop a love of the game. The club is now the largest soccer club by player participation numbers in the Geelong region, thanks in no small part to Bobby’s tireless work.

Damian McKeegan

Geelong Youth Engagement

Since 2016 Damian has helped more than 60 ‘at risk’ young people from Years 10 to 12 work through challenges as diverse as drug abuse, self-harming and homelessness, through GYE’s Geelong Kokoda Youth Program. This year-long commitment involves 20 weeks of physical training, building the self-confidence, resilience, physical fitness and mental strength of his young cohort in preparation to walk the 96km Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. Through nights and weekends Damian is always available to support individual young people involved in the program, and his support continues years after they leave.

Damon Veitch

EdConnect Australia

Over the past two years, Damon has mentored at least 5 students in two local primary schools as a volunteer for EdConnect, working with each student individually at weekly mentoring sessions. Through fun activities he provides a nurturing, relaxed environment and emotional support to help young people acquire the life skills they need to succeed. As a supportive role model he helps students to become more engaged in their learning, improve their school attendance, grow their independence and confidence, enjoy more positive interactions with teachers, and forge strong friendships.

Geoff Thompstone

Jan Juc Surf Lifesaving Club

Geoff has been instrumental in building the Jan Juc surf club into a successful volunteer organisation. He has patrolled Surf Coast beaches for more than 50 years, delivered training and assessments for lifesaving awards since 1971, and for the past 35 years has been a LSV assistant training officer for the Surf Coast. Geoff is currently in his 43rd year as Jan Juc club secretary and club house manager. He is a champion for equality and inclusivity. His commitment inspires others to volunteer and lend a hand, helping to ensure the essential service of lifesaving is delivered to the highest standards possible.

Jess Johns

South Barwon Football and Netball Club

Jess volunteers to support women in sport at South Barwon Football & Netball Club by organising Ladies Day: a fundraiser to help the club plan and cater for the rapid expansion of female participation in sport. 45% of the club’s players are now female. Jess took it upon herself to reach out to local businesses for donations and managed to raise auction items to the value of approximately $35,000. She has also challenged the club to “acknowledge country” and coached and mentored juniors for nearly 10 years. Jess is a role model to aspiring female athletes who want to become great players and even better people.

Karen Knuckey

Story Dogs

By reading books to dogs, school children improve their literacy skills, confidence and focus. The accepting, loving nature of dogs helps children relax and try harder in non-judgmental one-on-one sessions. As volunteer Coordinator for the Geelong region of Story Dogs, Karen recruits and trains new volunteers; finds new schools and sponsors; runs community information stalls; pursues media opportunities; and seeks funding to grow the group’s resources. She also runs weekly reading sessions at Montpellier Primary School with her two dogs, Penny and Libby, directly helping 7–9 year-old children learn to read.

Kerry Irwin

Christ Church Community Meals Program

Once a month on a Wednesday evening, for more than 15 years, Kerry has helped provide substantial roast dinners for over 100 Geelong locals in need. She organises the sourcing of all the food, including donated items, and leads a large team of volunteers to cook, serve and clean up after each meal. She has inspired the many young students who have worked with her and observed her tireless devotion. Kerry’s contribution has enriched the lives of Geelong’s needy in a most basic sense: she has nourished their souls with kindness and their stomachs with food.

Libby Bate

Cancer After Care Group Geelong

As the passionate President of Cancer After Care Group Geelong since 2009, Libby has had an immeasurable impact on the lives and health of residents across the region. Geelong cancer patients have better care, closer to home, thanks to her fundraising efforts to support vital equipment and services. The Group has donated over $4 million to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre at Barwon Health’s University Hospital Geelong. Libby is also an active member of the Lara community. She is a Board member of Lara Community District Bank, a CFA volunteer, and an Avalon Airshow volunteer, to name just a few of her many roles.

Margaret Markovic

Road Trauma Families Victoria

Margaret created and designed the Raw2Roar program for Geelong’s youth who are trying to cope with the impacts of road trauma. Her aim is to foster self-esteem and instill positive values through resilience-focused interventions and strategies to move beyond trauma, regulate emotions and cope with future challenges. Margaret has recruited and trained a volunteer team, established a mentor program, applied for funding, managed administration, and collaborated with various stakeholders including TAC, VicPol, the Department of Justice and community support agencies, all in her own time.

Susan Eyton

Lions Club of Lara

In the last year, Susan has volunteered more than 260 hours and has travelled more than 3,700 km. She is the driving force behind the Lions Eye Health Program Vision Screening in primary schools, conducting vision screening to detect undiagnosed eye health issues and training teams to expand the program across the Geelong region. She is also a trained volunteer Dermoscopist with the Lions Mobile Skin Cancer Screening Unit, working weekends to provide around 80 free skin checks. Her latest project is an All Abilities Park for the Geelong Northern Suburbs, which she will oversee from concept to conclusion.