Some often overlooked members of the community are about to be recognised with a tremendous honour from Victoria Police.
Two Justices of the Peace (JPs) serving at Ballarat Police Station are set to enter the rarefied air of the ‘100 Club’, at the organisation’s annual dinner on Tuesday night.
Chairman of the Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices Ballarat branch Harry Gibcus and fellow JP Michael Beaumont sat down with The Courier to talk about the honour.
“We've always had an annual dinner for the local branch of the Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices,” Mr Gibcus said.
“In the past few years we've started to go through the archives and look at Justices of the Peace that have been on for 100 or more sessions, so that we can hand that information over and the police can acknowledge the input that that particular justice has put in.”
Mr Gibcus was one of the first JPs to enter the 100 club, meaning he has gone through 100 sessions at one police station.
Mr Beaumont was excited to be joining the exclusive club, although didn’t believe he had reached the milestone at first.
“It snuck up on me, when Harry rang me I thought 'this can't be right’,” he laughed.
Mr Beaumont said he was proud of the work he and his fellow JPs do in the community.
“The thing that I think is most important is we are doing the work so the police don't have too. They shouldn't have to come out and take time away from things that are much more important.
“It's a bit of an honour, but when you think back on some of your other experiences at the police station I often say to the police 'I'm glad you're a real policeman because I couldn't do it’.
“The thing that I probably enjoy most is when people say ‘thank you so much’, they really appreciate the work we do as volunteers.”
Mr Gibcus said it took a special kind of person to be a JP.
“If a person becomes a Justice of the Peace they have made a certain commitment to serving the public and the police.
“People say 'why do you do it if you don't get paid?' and I'll usually respond saying ‘I'm too old to firefight, so this is my way of giving back to the community’.”
The celebrations will be unfortunately dampened after the death of former Ballarat JP Bryan Nicholls.
“There are a lot of JPs around, but not many cut from the same cloth as Bryan. He was a special man and it’s a shame he’s gone.”