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Sarsfield Community Association

8 July 2022

The cold Winter snap that we have endured over the past three weeks has done nothing to dampen the “Spirit of Sarsfield”.

The Friday Night Pizza feed and “Firepot Festival” certainly warmed us all. Many residents and ex residents have collected colourful prints donated by the Sweeney family. The Men’s Shed chopping boards have made their way into many local kitchens and the story behind the chopping boards is a very positive one. Anne and Stan from Northview Park Gardens provided plants for Sarsfield residents. The Recovery Hub is operating on Thursdays from 10am with representatives from Agencies, the Shire and BRV in attendance offering all kinds of support. Regular Cuppas and Chat continue and Yoga sessions recommence on Wednesday 13th from 5.30pm. It has been great to see so many young people utilizing the multi sports court over the school holidays. The “Spirit of Sarsfield “is certainly alive and well.

Todays Snippets celebrates our Sarsfield OAM, recounts the Firepot Feed, shares the good news story of the chopping boards and announces the final stage of the amazing Sarsfield Snaps project, updates on the Federal funding status and gives us a heads up for Christmas in July- it’s all happening in Sarsfield.

One of the Sweeney family prints Image: John Kinniburgh

A Sarsfieldian honoured

Since the 2019/2020 Summer Bushfires there have been some challenges, trials and tribulations for all, but these have been punctuated by many highs --amazing Friday Night Feeds, two victories in the Sandhill Ashes, the Resilience and Recovery Expo, Kayaking on the Nicho, outdoor cinemas, “light shows” , work on the grounds and sports court, the Sarsfield 2030 Community plan and much, much more.

The positive vibe peaked in recent weeks when it was announced that our very own Jo Andrews was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). The community were thrilled for Jo who is an extremely deserving recipient. Jo was a driving force in supporting Sarsfield residents immediately after the fires. Her instinctive actions, connecting with people, collating personal information about each residents’ unique situation and needs, delivering hampers, offering counsel, co-ordinating agency support and always with a gentle smile and a empathetic ear. Jo was a godsend. Whilst there were many amazing contributions by many amazing people over that time Jo became the “face of Sarsfield”. Jo continues to be active as Secretary of the Sarsfield Recreation Reserve Committee (SRRC) and the Sarsfield Community Association (SCA).

In a recent local celebration of Jo’s award, she was humble and respectful as always. She credited her husband Paul who took their children out of the area during the crisis period allowing her to “get to work”! She also paid tribute to other Sarsfieldians who work tirelessly in our Recovery from Recovery.

Members of the SCA celebrating Jo’s OAM award Image: John Kinniburgh

So who is Jo Andrews?

Jo was born and bred in Sarsfield growing up on the corner of the GAR and McNamara’s Lane in a small miners’ cottage purchased by her parents Neil and Heather Hand. The cottage was expanded outwards and upwards over time to cater for a growing family- Jo, and her brother and sister.

Whilst growing up Jo was an outdoors kid loving her time in the paddocks with the cows and birdlife. Her early connection to water came from hunting for tadpoles and yabbies in their Sarsfield dam. This connection was further strengthened as she joined her family in spending leisure times on the Gippsland Lakes, kayaking or holidaying with relatives at Loch Sport.

Jo attended the “old” Lucknow Primary School before heading to Bairnsdale High School and then the newly amalgamated Bairnsdale Secondary College. During her school years Jo joined the Bairnsdale Gymnastics program. She excelled, practised, trained and then coached other young gymnasts. This continued for many years after she left Bairnsdale. She moved to Melbourne enrolling at Latrobe University Bundoora completing a Biological Science Degree. Jobs were scarce and Jo returned to Bairnsdale working for the Catchment Management Authority in Waterwatch and other Community Education programs. An employment opportunity saw Jo move back to Melbourne working for Melbourne Water and living in Carlton and Fitzroy. She met Paul, they followed Jo’s strong connections to East Gippsland, the Lakes and more significantly Sarsfield and eventually purchased their property in Sarsfield skirted by the Nicho River. Their children, Hayden, Arlo and Eliana are being raised as country kids/ as Sarsfield kids.

We all congratulate Jo on her award and thank her for her contribution to our community- she is indeed a heroine of Sarsfield.

Jo Andrews OAM Image: SCA Website

Chopping boards with a story

Many residents took advantage of an offer of free chopping boards after the recent Friday night feed. The story behind these timber chopping boards is one of generosity, resourcefulness, resilience and gratitude. Immediately after the 2019/2020 Summer Bushfires many organizations nationwide and internationally reached out and supported in a multitude of ways.

In the months after the Summer fires the resourceful men from the Traralgon Men’s Shed began creating timber gifts to support Sarsfield families and brighten up their lives. Unfortunately, in June 2021 Traralgon suffered flash flooding and the area around Traralgon Creek was underwater. The Traralgon Men’s Shed was totally inundated ruining much of their equipment and damaging their building and the material on site (including the Sarsfield bushfire donations) .

Since that time members of East Gippsland Men’s Sheds (Bruthen) took the timber and tried to re-use, restore and recreate putting the timber through a thicknesser. Some wonderful Sarsfield residents namely Amy Fisher, Peter Filmer, and Andy and Deb Van Der Peet then sanded and oiled the boards creating the wonderful gifts which now adorn many of our kitchens- a great story of co-operation, resourcefulness and forward thinking.

Timber chopping boards gifted from the Traralgon Men’s Shed Image: SCA Facebook

A Wintery Friday Night Around the Firepot

Our June Friday night feed involved hot pizzas and socializing around the raging firepots provided by members of our community. Our firepot stalwarts Andy and Luke Van der Peet provided one each, whilst David Jackson, Simon Hof and Cath McLellan added firepots to add to the ambience. It was a great way to socialize, chomping on pizza, modelling our winter beanies and crowding around one of the raging fires.

As an aside the “masked mower” who has been unwell over recent weeks dragged himself out of bed to pre stock the firepots with dry wood.

Arlo Andrews parades a fancy beanie Image: Jo Andrews

The masked mower unloading the firewood for the feed Image: Cathy McLellan

David’s pot, the first Image: SCA Facebook

July Friday Night Feed - Christmas in July

The next Friday night feed is scheduled for Friday 29th of July and is a “Christmas in July“ with all the trimmings. This event is an “optional” donation in the Christmas bucket event. Anyone who is able to help decorate the hall in preparation for the night please contact Cath on 0488 051 936

Sarsfield Snaps

One of the feel good stories over the recovery period has been the Sarsfield Snaps- it is an ever evolving and exciting initiative which has sparked the interest , creativity and community spirit of our Sarsfield young people.

The next chapter in this amazing project is “the Sarsfield Snaps Book” which will be a hardcover coffee table book that includes photos from each of the superstar photographers as well as a background summary of the Sarsfield Snaps story. This will be one of the final formal activities of the Sarsfield Snaps project . Snaps will be wrapping up at the end of 2022 but the memories, lived experiences and photos in circulation will be with us for many years to come. Each participating photographer will receive their own free copy but others can pre-order through sarsfieldsnaps@gmail.com by Sunday 31st of July. It is anticipated books will be available from October 2022.

Details of the Snaps Book

· 150 page (approx), hard cover, coffee table book

· Professionally printed and published

· Registered with local and State libraries

· Sharing images from over 60 young local photographers

· Includes the story of Sarsfield Snaps

· $30 per book - 100% donated towards the Sarsfield Community Association (*discounted rate that doesn't cover the cost of production)

· Books will be available for pick up only, at Sarsfield community events during October & November

Sarsfield Snaps Image: Tiana Felmingham

Funding updates

The East Gippsland Community Foundation (EGCF) have funded several of the projects that are underway or complete such as the Multi Sports court, the cricket nets and the toilet upgrade and we thank them for their support.

However, we still eagerly await the Federal funding which was pledged by Barnaby Joyce early this year through Community Development Funding. A formal application has been submitted but with the May elections and a change in Government we are still awaiting a formal announcement. The Sarsfield Community Association with the support of the East Gippsland Council, our local member Darren Chester and other influential agencies are all advocating for a positive outcome. This funding would provide the redevelopment of the Community Hall and would bring the amazing Sarsfield playground to life.







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Sarsfield Community Association · 10 School Road · Sarsfield, Vic 3875 · Australia

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