Celebrating our wonderful past volunteers at BMH

Published on 22 February 2024

Mark & Louise at Hall.jpeg

On Monday 12 February, the Council hosted an event at the Bellingen Memorial Hall to pay tribute to the exemplary dedication and service of Louise Rawson-Harris and Mark Willis, two well-known members of the community who tirelessly contributed to the Bellingen Memorial Hall for over two decades.

In a small ceremony held at the hall, a plaque was unveiled in the foyer, immortalising their invaluable contributions. Alongside a devoted volunteer committee, Lousie managed the operations of the Memorial Hall from 1995 to 2018, her partner Mark joining her in this endeavour in around 2005. Louise and Mark's unwavering commitment to the hall remained resolute, prompting friends and community members to advocate for formal recognition of their monumental efforts.

The gathering, attended by Louise, Mark, their loved ones and Deputy Shire Mayor Cr Ellie Tree, was a deserving acknowledgment of their selfless service. While Mayor Cr Steve Allan expressed regret for his absence, he conveyed heartfelt gratitude, recognising the profound impact Louise and Mark had on fostering community cohesion and camaraderie through the Memorial Hall.

Throughout their tenure, Louise and Mark played integral roles in facilitating a wide array of community activities, from performances to workshops and film nights, laying the groundwork for subsequent renovations in collaboration with the Council. Their dedication showed the spirit of volunteerism and community engagement that has defined Bellingen Memorial Hall since its inception.

Hall plaque.jpeg

Mayor Cr Steve Allan remarked, "The legacy of the hall has always been about keeping the community strong and connected... It is our volunteers that provide that for all of us – and this small plaque is to acknowledge two special people, amongst others who have maintained the community heart of the hall."

Looking ahead, Memorial Hall Coordinator Phil Nicholas expressed optimism about sustaining the hall's community-centric ethos. He urged community members to join the "Friends of the BMH" initiative, emphasising the continued importance of volunteerism in preserving the hall as a cherished communal space. "As we usher in a new era for the hall, we remain committed to upholding its legacy as a hub for community connection and enrichment," said Phil Nicholas.

"We encourage anyone who wants to get involved to join the 'Friends of the BMH' – there are plenty of opportunities to contribute and be part of our community Hall in various capacities."

The ceremony concluded with a morning tea and gratitude for Louise Rawson-Harris and Mark Willis, whose enduring legacy will forever be etched into the fabric of the Bellingen Memorial Hall.