-By Kim Parnell-
The Fraser Lions Hervey Bay is gearing up for the festive season with their delicious and much-loved Lions Club Christmas Cake. We caught up with two of their volunteers Graham and Shona Bates to find out a little about the couple and their involvement with Lions.
Graham and his wife Shona have called Hervey Bay home for three and a half years, making the move just before the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown. Their decision to relocate was driven by a desire for a better lifestyle, and the timing coincided with their son’s move to Hervey Bay, creating an opportunity for him to potentially take care of them in their later years.
Both originally from New Zealand, Graham from Christchurch and Shona from Wellington, the couple migrated to Australia in 1986 in pursuit of improved opportunities for their family. and they have never regretted their decision.
Now retired, Graham, at seventy-nine, reflects on his journey. Upon his arrival in Australia, he quickly secured a state management position in the plumbing industry within ten days of arrival. Graham’s career spanned fifty years in the merchandise business, focusing on plumbing and electrical supplies for various companies. Shona was a paralegal for a solicitor.
Married for fifty-three years, Graham and Shona share a strong bond and a great sense of humour. When asked about the secret to a happy marriage, Graham quips, “Give and take, I give – she takes (echoing laughter). Shona adds, “We have become one person and think alike which is really nice”.
The couple, parents to three children, grandparents to four, and great-grandparents to three, dedicate much of their time to volunteering for Fraser Lions Hervey Bay. Having been with Fraser Lions since their arrival in Hervey Bay, Graham brings fourteen years of experience from his time with the Morayfield Lions Club and the Mosgiel Lions Club in New Zealand.
Graham has always cared about other people and enjoys helping others. He also likes the camaraderie of the Lions Club and has made some lifelong friends.
Fraser Lions has a membership of thirty-two, but an active membership of only about twenty. The group actively engages in community service through fundraising events such as barbecues and selling cakes. They also have a food trailer that is used in collaboration with the SES and local police to provide food for search and rescue teams on site. The couple emphasizes the club’s commitment to assisting the community, with an average contribution of twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars per annum over the past three years that goes back into the community.
The Christmas cakes are available in various locations around Hervey Bay. The club has a stand at Stockland Shopping Centre in Pialba near Rockman’s, on Thursday’s Fridays, and Saturdays, from 9 am until 3 pm. The stand will be there until roughly December 22 or 23 depending on supply.
From December 1 Fraser Lions will sell Christmas cakes at Pialba Shopping Centre as well as offering gift wrapping for a gold coin donation.
Shona, as the membership chair, encourages new members to join, emphasizing the club’s welcoming atmosphere. You can contact Shona on 0412 370 416.
Christmas for the Bates family will be about spending time with their son in Hervey Bay and their daughter on the Sunshine Coast and talking to their other daughter in New Zealand via phone. Shona will cook up a cold Christmas lunch with all the traditional Aussie things…with one difference, there will be no Christmas cake at the table as ironically Graham doesn’t eat fruitcake so Shona will whip up a raspberry cheesecake instead.