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Victorian Environment Friends Network - Friends Award

At the 5th Conference in 1991 the Best Friend Award was established. The criterion for the Award is: An outstanding contribution through exceptional dedication as a Friend.

This will usually involve constant honorary involvement in the work of the group over a period of at least ten years. Groups nominate and assessment is by an independent panel.

Victorian Environment Friends Network

Three written nominations are required including one from a representative of the land manager.

Download nomination form

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Recipients of the Award

Presented by the Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change and Minister for Suburban Development on 19 November 2016

Stanley Barker, Burke Road Billabong

Stanley helped form the Burke Road Billabong Committee of Management in 2008, serving as Chair since that time. The Burke Road Billabong Reserve, previously the Kew tip, is 10 hectares of one of the last remaining natural billabongs of the Yarra River. He also helped establish Friends of Herring Island, located in the Yarra River in Richmond Melbourne, 24 years ago in 1992, serving as the Secretary and Treasurer since then.

Merrin Butler, Friends of Mt Worth State Park

Merrin is President of Friends of Mt Worth State Park, near Warragul south east of Melbourne. Merrin has been a member of the Friends of Mount Worth State Park for more than 14 years, since 2002 and President of the group for the past six years. The Friends of Mount Worth are located 15 km south of Warragul in the western Strzelecki Ranges in Victoria.

Jane Hollands, Friends of Sassafras Creek Inc

Jane joined the Friends of Sassafras Creek Inc. over 17 years ago in the late 1990s and is currently the Treasurer. The group began in 1991 and are passionate about maintaining and preserving the natural state of the Sassafras Creek Reserve. The group works along the Sassafras and Perrins Creek corridors. Jane has also championed the creation of the Community Weed Alliance of the Dandenongs (CWAD).

Terry Lane, Friends of Organ Pipes National Park

Terry first joined the Friends of Organ Pipes National Park 12 years ago in 2004, serving as Convenor since 2005. This national park is located in Keilor in the City of Brimbank greater Melbourne. The Friends of Organ Pipes began in 1972, 44 years ago. Terry co-led the organisation of the Friends of Holden Reserve which has been well supported by Sunbury residents. He is also a Waterwatch volunteer, helps with bat monitoring, and was instrumental in setting up a sugar glider monitoring program in Organ Pipes Park.

Peter Somerville, Friends of the Maribyrnong Valley

Peter attended the first meeting 30 years ago in 1986 that formed Friends of the Maribyrnong Valley (FMV). He has been on the FMV Committee since that time and held all positions, currently serving as Vice President. Peter has worked tirelessly to improve and restore the quality of the Maribyrnong River and its surrounding parklands. In partnership with his son Warwick, Peter conducts cruises along the Maribyrnong River on the well-known vessel Blackbird.

Paul Strickland

Paul has been a member of the Friends of Mount Worth State Park for more than 14 years, since 2002. Paul and Merrin Butler regularly speak to various local groups, making the work of the Friends widely known and successfully recruiting new members and volunteers for the group’s activities. Paul and Merrin are also involved with the West Gippsland Seedbank Association and Darnum-Ellinbank Fire Brigade and have planted more than 20,000 indigenous plants on their own property.



Ann & Bruce McGregor, Friends of Merri Creek

Ann and Bruce McGregor are Honorary Life Members of the Friends of Merri Creek (FoMC) after helping to form the group in 1989, and they continue to be extremely active members, with Ann as the current Vice President.

Les Smith, Friends of Little Desert

Soon after Little Desert NP was created in 1988, Les set up the Friends of Little Desert at a local meeting, and has served on every position of the committee ever since.

Morris Maxwell, Friends of the Margaret Lewis Reserve Group

Morris is a founding member of the Friends of the Margaret Lewis Reserve Group and has contributed greatly to the reserve over the last fifteen years.

Kay Johnston, Friends of Gardiners Creek Valley

Kay has been a very active member of the Friends group since its foundation in 1991. She has served in all executive positions on the committee and often writes for the group’s newsletters.

Trevor Phillips, Friends of Gardiners Creek Valley

Trevor has been a member of the Friends group for 11 years and President for the past ten. He plans, organises and leads all the Friends’ working bees and tree-planting days, and takes care of most of the administration as well as leading on-site work.



Bernie Fox, Friends of Brisbane Ranges

Bernie has been an active member of the Friends group for 16 years. During that time he
was President from 1999-2001 and Newsletter Editor from 2002-2005.

Dawn Kneen, Friends of Bogong

Dawn has made a significant contribution as a volunteer and very keen 'friend' for the Bogong Management Unit of the Alpine National Park, for 30 years.



Max Ross, Friends of Mt Worth State Park

Has been Public Officer/Secretary/Treasurer since the group incorporated. He never misses a monthly working bee and cheerfully does whatever the group needs him to do.

Rhonda Coffey, Friends of Barwon Bluff

Eileen was the founder of the Friends group in 1984. She has been a leader continuously since and is a font of knowledge to this day

Noel and Dudley Gross, Friends of Wright Forest

Dudley and Noel Gross moved to Avonsleigh, near Wright Forest in the Dandenongs, in 1989, and immediately joined the Friends group. They have been active in it ever since.



Maureen Bond, Healesville Environment Watch:
Maureen Bond has been the Secretary for Healesville Environment Watch for the past ten years, and has been a strong advocate for the group, creating and maintaining strong working relationships with the Healesville Primary School, the Council, Melbourne Water and the WaterWatch Program.

Phil Crohn, Friends of South Surrey Park
He has been on its committee for 14 of its 17 years, been President and Public Officer, planned and organized weekly and monthly working bees, attended seminars to learn about weeds, and put in several hours each week towards improving this little park.

Alfred and Ursula Klink, Friends of Kurth Kiln:
Alfred and Ursula Klink founded the Friends of Kurth Kiln in 1999 and have since been the driving force behind this very active and successful group. 

Peter Mauger, Friends of Hoddle's Creek:
Since this group was formed in 1999, Peter Mauger has steered it gently but strongly, encouraging achievable
projects which benefit the wider community.



Eileen Collins, Friends of Chiltern-Mt Pilot NP
Eileen has been Convenor of the Friends group since 1993 and has co-authored books on the flora and birds in the park.

Jan Gillett, Friends of Edwards Point
Jan has been especially active in working to preserve remnant coastal ecosystems that enhance the chances for the survival of the Orange-bellied Parrot.



Margaret Graham and Betty Witt, Friends of Bogong
Twin sisters Margaret and Betty have served on the committee for many years in executive capacities and have developed a database of the flora of the high plains.

Kevin Jones, Friends of Organ Pipes National Park
Kevin has been a volunteer with FOOPs for 32 years and was treasurer for 15 years. 

Judy Rutherford, Friends of the Yarra
Judy formed the group and became its first president from 1991. She and the group hand-weeded Galatea Point in a highly-focussed, strategic fashion until it is now classified as an area of State Botanical Significance.

Ian Wheeler, Friends of Maribyrnong Valley
Ian has been an enthusiastic worker on the group's planting sites and has served as President and Vice-President.

Tony Woolford, Friends of Buckley Falls
Through lobbying and regular clearing, weeding and revegetation, Tony has helped turn a near rubbish tip into a linear park on the banks of the Barwon River.



David Barr, Friends of Wilson Reserve
David�s interest and care, over many years, in improving the health of the wetlands and billabongs along the Yarra River near Horseshoe Bend at Wilson Reserve has led him to be an active member of the Friends group for the past 10 years.

Ken Harris Friends of Morwell National Park
Ken, the founding member of the Friends group in 1985, has provided leadership and direction of an extremely high standard ever since.

Geoff Lacey, Friends of French Island National Park
Geoff has been a dedicated member of this Friends group since 1989.He has held every committee position over the years and now edits the F.O.F.I. newsletter providing an invaluable
source of interesting facts about the Island.

Wallace (Wally) Mortimer, Friends of Wonnangatta
A life-long passion for the Wonnangatta Valley began in 1965 and the Valley still
excites Wally's interest and passion today.



Robert Irvine, Friends of the Organ Pipes National Park

Tireless and enthusiastic group member. Has conducted a number of research projects in the park and has acted in various roles on the Committee

Maelor Himbury, Friends of the Organ Pipes National Park

A regular and committed contributer. Manages the website.



Sue Course, Darebin Parklands Association

Committed, tenacious and energetic, Sue has played a vital role since 1973 in helping transform a former tip and quarry into one of Melbourne's best urban bushland reserves.

Cyril Curtain, Friends of Brisbane Ranges

Committed, tenacious and energetic, Sue has played a vital role since 1973 in helping transform a former tip and quarry into one of Melbourne's best urban bushland reserves.

Judy Douglas, Friends of Werribee Gorge

Judy was a foundation member of the group in 1984, using her teaching skills to enhance people's awareness of the parks, as well as taking part in all the Friends' activities.

Howard & Marie Hodgens, Friends of Wattle Park

As President, Howard was the mainstay of the group since joining in 1994, involved in weeding, seed collecting, propagating and planting. Secretary since 1995, Marie worked with Howard to apply for grants, edit newsletters and organise group activities.

Graeme Hume, Friends of Great South West Walk

A Friends member for over 25 years, and President for 15, Graeme spent many hours working to maintain the natural environment and facilities for walkers along the 250 km volunteer-built track in far south-west Victoria.

Frances Overmars, Pinkerton Landcare Environment Group

Frances was President of the group from its 1992 inception, working hard ever since on plant and bird surveys and recreating the original landscape and flora around Melton.

Robert Reid, Friends of Werribee Gorge

Robert was the group's first coordinator in 1984 and has worked in many roles to protect and enhance these parks, including conducting historical research and producing several books.

Alan Trevorrow, Friends of Nyerimilang

A vital Friends member for over 25 years, Alan helped maintain the natural environment and heritage buildings of this park near Lakes Entrance, also organising and running community days and other events.



Doris Bevan, Friends of Sassafras Creek
A tireless worker since 1990, has participated in every aspect of the Friends' work.

Bill Goodall, Friends of the Point (Point Nepean)
Established the group in 1989 and manually removed tonnes of sand from the historic fortifications and established walking tracks.

Eric Mitche11, Friends of Braeside Park
Has played a leading role in the establishment of both the park and the group. Leadership over 16 years including editor of Newsletter.



Zoe Hogg, Earth Care St Kilda
Founding member and either President or Secretary since 1988. Involved in numerous foreshore projects, particularly the Penguin colony.

Lance and Judith Lewis, Friends of Brisbane Ranges
Foundation members,  regular participants and group historians for 22 years. Dynamic 'grandparents' of the group.

Margaret Medley, Friends of French Island
Honorary Treasurer since foundation of the group in 1984. Has obtained many grants and attended all activities.  Years of hard work.



Geoff Durham, Friends of Wyperfeld National Park
Geoff  has led or participated in virtually all the group¹s activities since 1976. He authored 'Wyperfeld- Australia¹s First Mallee National Park' for the Friends.

Max Sargent, Friends of Merri Creek
Max provided outstanding leadership in various campaigns, notably that against the Merri Creek Freeway, whilst normal activities of planting and litter clean-ups continued.

Marion Taylor, Friends of Coolart
Since the Group¹s inception in 1979, Marion¹s on-going commitment as to Coolart wetlands and homestead has been truly extraordinary.



Robert Bender, Friends of the Organ Pipes National Park
Has been a tireless volunteer in the park for over 20 years and has painstakingly documented the activities of the group and the local history (natural and otherwise).

Jack Brooks, Friends of Mt Worth State Park
Played a major role in establishing the park, founder of the Friends Group and has attended almost every monthly activity since 1981.



John Munday, Friends of Woodlands Historic Park

Ian Pratchett, Friends of Woodlands Historic Park
Known as the Shadow Brothers, John & Ian have worked together on many Friends projects for twenty years and have rarely missed a project day. An inspiration.

Gladys Sweetten, Friends of Woodlands Historic Park

John Sweetten, Friends of Woodlands Historic Park
John & Gladys have been regular participants since 1982 and for 15 years have shown remarkable dedication as volunteer guides to Woodlands Homestead.



Marshall Baillieu, Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne
Advocacy for the gardens predates formation of the group in 1991. A crucial role in opposing an arterial road through the gardens. Dedicated and thorough involvement.

Nola Haines, Friends of Brisbane Ranges National Park
Convenor for ten years and outstanding as an organiser and a regular and reliable participant. Convenor of Friends publication - Wildflowers of the Brisbane Ranges.

Millie Howell, Friends of the Prom
Has attended nearly every activity for 20 years. Has served as Joint Co-ordinator, President, Newsletter Editor and leader of the Nursery Program.



Elizabeth Doery, Friends of Wyperfeld National Park
Active with the group since it formed in 1976 and as Convenor from 1980 to 1997 was responsible for all facets of its operations. Her dedication and enthusiasm an inspiration.

Vivien Freshwater, Friends of Sherbrooke Forest
A committee member of the group since its formation in 1980, holding every office with distinction and dedication. Produced two books. A tireless worker and advocate.

Eddie Kleingeerts, Friends of Bogong & Friends of Mt Buffalo National Park
Founding member of both groups formed in 1984. Mainstay of Friends of Mt Buffalo until 1998 and on-going with Friends of Bogong. Convenor 1989 to 1993.



Des Quinn, Friends of French Island
Des initiated the Friends Group in 1984 and as its first Convenor and enthusiastic member made any trips to French Island. He has particular knowledge of its birds.



Carl Rayner, Friends of Organ Pipes
Actively involved since 1977, Carl became Secretary and Convenor. He played a leading role in the conservation and restoration of Keilor Plains flora.

Sam Bruton, Friends of the Great South West Walk
Sam is esponsible for the concept of the Great South West Walk, and in 1984 instigated the formation of the Friends Group. Continuous involvement and unbridled enthusiasm.



Tom Burchell, Friends of the Brisbane Ranges National Park
A foundation member of the Group (formed 1982) Tom has been a stalwart until recently, missing only a few Project Days and making many other visits to the park.



Gerry McKay Friends of Gellibrand Hill
The instigator of the Group in 1982 and longtime active member, Gerry was also its representative on the Park Advisory Committee. He died in September 2001.



Margaret Witherspoon, Friends of Blackburn Lake
Tenacious was the word used to describe Margaret's contribution which included being secretary of the Cootamundra Walk Committee for 14 years.



Bill Golding O.A.M., Friends of the Great South West Walk
Bill advanced the concept and rallied support for the Great South West Walk, and has been a key person and worker within the Friends Group since it formed in 1985.

Barry Kemp, Friends of Organ Pipes
Barry made an immense contribution to the restoration of Keilor Plains flora in Organ Pipes National Park from 1972 to 1988 through his botanical expertise and devotion.



Don Marsh, Friends of Organ Pipes
Formed in 1972 and nurtured by Don, his group became the model and inspiration for all groups. In accepting the Award, Don's message was: More, do more.

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