When Ballarat South Senior Citizens club got together for its 48th anniversary this week, there was an extra special reason to celebrate.
For the first time in the club’s history two of its members have won senior of the year awards in the same year.
Catherine Riggall was presented with the Council of the Ageing award at Government House as part of the Victorian Senior of the Year award celebrations on Tuesday. She joined local winner mental health campaigner Robyn Cunningham.
Eighteen seniors across Victoria from more than 140 nominations were recognised for their community work in Melbourne.
Ms Riggall has dedicated three decades of her life as a volunteer organising fundraisers, balls and dance classes with proceeds donated to various charities.
She is both a life member and vice president of the Ballarat South club.
Ms Riggall described the Government House presentation as “all very overwhelming”.
“When you think of the numbers (in terms of nominations) it’s a special thing, isn’t it?,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to get anywhere, so I have been quite surprised since we found out a couple of weeks ago.”
Ms Riggall had her family members including three granddaughters join her for the special occasion.
“It was very exciting,” she said. “I think they were even more excited than me.”
Ms Riggall has been a member of the Ballarat South Senior Citizens club for 10 years and previously won the Ballarat Senior of the Year award in 2009.
She was secretary for 15 years of Star of Stars, where she helped organise community dances. She has also run Ballarat Go Dancing.
“I’ve been the head of that and I do three classes a week voluntarily teaching the dancing,” Ms Riggall said.
“We give to many places such as the Base Hospital, the Soup Bus, cancer research and the disabled.”
Meanwhile, fellow senior citizens club member Ms Cunningham was presented with the Mayor’s Award for Ballarat’s Senior of the Year at the awards last month.
Ms Cunningham was recognised after volunteering with the Office of the Public Advocate as a regional convenor and community visitor of the Grampians Region Mental Health Stream for more than 18 years. As part of her role, she visits mental health facilities in the region and ensures patients and residents’ rights are upheld.
Ms Cunningham has also worked with a number of community groups including a weekly food pantry program and a weekly music program as a passionate member of the Ballarat Seventh-day Adventist Church.
With her late husband, she has also dedicated most of her life to foster care, raising more than 40 foster children.