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Millicent Lions International Merit Award 2014


Lions International Medal of Merit 2014

The Millicent Lions International Medal of Merit is awarded to a community member each year.  This years medal was presented to Sheryl and Rebekah Lowe at the Lions hand-over dinner on Saturday 5th July 2014, by Lions Member Barry Stoddart, who nominated the recipients.

Mr Stoddardts following address was provided by Millicent Lions for 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

“The community radio station 5THEFM has been serving the Millicent and District Community for 20 years. It has gone through good times and struggling times as organisations do. Around 10 years ago it was in real danger of folding. Fortunately for our community, at that time Sheryl and Rebekah Lowe moved to Rendelsham and because of Rebekah’s experience in Community Radio in Adelaide they both took an interest in the management and running of the station.

It is not possible to identify just one of these people as the key to the station’s recovery. The two work as a team. Sheryl has been the manager while Rebekah has trained the volunteers and ensured the system works by scheduling and being an extraordinary presenter. They are both volunteers.

Sheryl has been the person who applied for grants and licensing, making sure that all aspects of the organisation operated efficiently and morally. Those who have ever listened to some radio stations will know what is presented as music is sometimes of dubious quality and lacking in the standards this community expects. This is not so at 5THEFM, as only programs and music suitable for all ages is played during their local programs. It is program content that can be listened to without embarrassment. At night when the station must take a satellite feed the two endeavour to not take the feed when dubious programs are scheduled. I know they are anxious to provide 24 hour programming some time during the next 12 months as the equipment to do this is purchased and presenters trained in its use.

Rebekah is the announcer extraordinary. She presents in the most professional way and she trains and encourages all other volunteer announcers to do the same. No-one goes before a live microphone without thorough training and expectations of a high standard. Rebekah and Sheryl are the mentors for all the volunteers in the station, the volunteer carpenters, the technician, the catalogue person, sports contributors, and of course the presenters – encouraging and supporting. The encouragement given to High School students is another one of their successes. Maybe some are started in a career of journalism as a result.

Under their leadership the station earned the Australian Award for Best Small Station in the Nation 2012 in the National CBAA Awards.

Fundraising is an integral part of running the station and both Sheryl and Rebekah are super conscientious at doing this, so good in fact that sometimes others can take it for granted and leave the hard yards to them, but they never give up.

Both Rebekah and Sheryl ensure the station supports worthy causes and often the station is home for thousands of items such as shoes or bras being collected for people in third world countries.

They ensure that Anzac Day is promoted and celebrated.

They have initiated the While Ribbon Campaign in Millicent and have encouraged many Millicent men to be Ambassadors of No Violence Towards Women.

They were at the forefront of the Campaign and Public Meeting to stop the closure of Obstetric Services at the Millicent Hospital.

The Wattle Range Now website is another innovation to provide local news to people of the district in a timely manner.

Both Sheryl and Rebekah spend countless hours each week at the station and are often seen working late into the night catching up on paper work, they both do more than many full time workers. They do this selflessly. In their time at the station the facilities have gone ahead in leaps and bounds, they have had a vision of what the station could be and have worked tirelessly to achieve it. They truly are Volunteers of the Year for this club.”

Lions of Australia Medals of Merit were presented to Sheryl and Rebekah.

In response:-

Response by S Lowe – what I said and what I meant to say at the time!

” It came as a complete surprise when Lions President Leon Miels came to 5THE FM to ask us if we would accept this award. Leon got away quite quickly that day because for once we were stuck for words, instead of taking the opportunity for a chat, as we are often known to do!

It would be easy just to accept the award with out looking back to where we have come from, but as Mr Stoddardt said, about 10 years ago it was a real possibility that 5THE FM could close and there are two people I wish to acknowledge in receiving this award.

The station was suffering financial and cultural problems!

We soon realised that we needed sound advice in the direction we should take in the future of the station. We didn’t feel that we alone should make the decision about such a valuable community assett. We decided that the Mayor would be the logical person to start with and Mark Braes who was Mayor of Wattle Range Council at the time agreed to an appointment with us.

Mr Braes had been Chairman of the Board of 5THE FM in its early days  and was aware of the culture problems and the financial pressure across the community broadcasting sector as well as 5THE FM.

After listening to us, he agreed that we did indeed need legal advice and also agreed that an appointment with Solicitor Boyd Groenveld was the next thing to do.

Our meeting with Mr Groenveld, also a former Chairman of 5THE FM, resulted in these words  at the following AGM – “it did not take me long to decide on whose side I needed to intervene.’  and intervene he did on our behalf. Mr Groenveld said he felt 5THE FM was too important a community organisation to allow to fold. He immediately accepted the role as Chairman and remains in this position today.

Mr Groeneveld recognised the need for a management structure to be put in place and because he did this and supported our roles, we have been able to achieve the things said tonight. A culture takes four years to change and it took all of those four years and some. We now enjoy and happy, healthy work environment and have an excellent team working with us.

Mr Braes and Mr Groenveld also supported our decision to launch the White Ribbon Campaign in the Wattle Range region, becoming the founding White Ribbon Ambassadors;  have led many of the annual White Ribbon Day marches and have also been guest speakers at these events.

Boyd is facing a personal fight of his own now; he is fighting the diagnosis of a brain tumour and I know you would all join with me in wishing him well with his treatment and a return to good health.

If it were not for these two men, Mark and Boyd, we would not be standing here tonight receiving these awards and Millicent and the wider community of Wattle Range would not still have their own radio station.

I told Boyd this week we were to receive this award and said to him we could not have done it with out him. “Oh Sheryl,” he said, “you two have done the work, I played but a small part in it!”  He was extremely pleased for us and for the station to be recognised this way by Lions.

A third man, Accountant John McLoughlin, has also been a major influence in the stations recovery. He had already begun sorting through the stations financials at this time and started the long process of re-establishing financial stability. He remains a volunteer with the station today, overseeing and advising all aspects of financial accountability as we need him.  It is because of Mr McLoughlin that 5THE FM has been able to gradually re-establish financial stability. John was also one the founding White Ribbon Ambassadors and attends the annual marches. He continues to advise and support us to this day and our appreciation to him cannot be measured.

As I look around the tables tonight, most have someone who has helped us over the past 10 years. Ralph Domaschenz is on our Board, Rosey Pounsett works in administration, Judy Altwchwager works on the hospital services campaign with us, and a team of Lions Members assisted us with painting our administration office. John Drew isn’t here tonight, but he is now our resident technician, keeping us on air, has wired our new studios and assists us with outside broadcasts. And ofcourse Rebekah’s passion for broadcasting and commitment to teaching, is the foundation of our improved broadcast.

The whole building, the former Railway Station,  has undergone a total re-build during this time; turning a ‘sows ear into a silk purse’ is the aim of any renovation project and we are well on the way.  In recognition of 5THE FM, the DTEI have secured the stations future with a registered lease and a registered interest in any and all development of the area.

This year, 2014,  is the station’s 21st birthday and we hope you will all be a part of the celebrations.

Thankyou so much for this award, we really appreciate this acknowledgment from Lions and hope that the partnership between our two organisations continues well into the future.”


Rebekah’s response.

“I have four quotes above my desk at the station, quotes which inspire me and I’d like to share one of these with you tonight.”

“I had the opportunity to interview Father Chris Riley sometime ago and I asked him how we can make the world a better place. We can’t all be Father Chris Riley.”

“He said,  help the person next door to you and we become a better community and we help the world as a whole.”

“I thought this quote describes what both  our organisations do, Lions and 5THE FM, we try to help the person next door and by doing so, we build a better community.”

“Thankyou so much for this Award.”


Rebekah and Sheryl with medals

Rebekah and Sheryl Lowe with Lions Medals of Merit 2014

The Millicent Lions handover and presentation article and photos from the event will follow.