By Jessica Howard
It was a hard choice deciding who would take out this year’s Ballan & District Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s Award.
So hard, in fact, that Moorabool Shire Mayor (at the time) Dave Edwards couldn’t pick just one.
This year’s honour went to Alex Ng and Sue Lan (Bacchus Marsh Foodworks) and Ruth and Mark Mills (The Plough Hotel, Myrniong).
The Mayor’s Award acknowledged an outstanding individual within the community and was one of 12 categories in the 2017 Business Excellence Awards.
Alex and Sue have owned and operated Bacchus Marsh Foodworks for 20-years this December.
Cr Edwards said the pair have provided generous donations and sponsorships to dozens of local sporting clubs, community groups and individual residents.
“[Alex and Sue] help out with fundraiser after fundraiser and I am sure there is so much more that no one even hears about,” he said.
Bacchus Marsh Foodworks has and is, an annual $10,000 sponsor of the Ballan, Gordon, Bacchus Marsh and Darley Football Netball Clubs; local cricket clubs along with personal requests when a family or individual comes upon hard times.
Bacchus Marsh Foodworks admin assistant, Bec Pino accepted the award in Alex and Sue’s absence.
“[Alex and Sue] don’t do all that they do for thankyou’s, they do it for themselves and they do it for the community,” she said.
In 2015, during the Wye River fires, Alex handed over the keys to his Lorne supermarket to local firefighters and told them to help themselves.
“Their generosity is outstanding,” Cr Edwards said.
Down the road, the kindness offered by Mark and Ruth Mills at The Plough in Myrniong is just as impressive.
Over the last five-years, more than $250,000 has been raised for both the Bacchus Marsh and Ballan Hospitals, as well as $15,000 for Blue Bird House and $1,000 for the Myrniong Uniting Church.
In March this year, the Mills hosted a benefit dinner for Bacchus Marsh resident Steve Arandt, who was diagnosed with stage-four cancer
The Mills have also hosted discounted functions for Bacchus Marsh Rotary, Ballan and Bacchus Marsh Lions Club, Bacchus Marsh Cricket Club, Darley Football Club, Bacchus Marsh and Myrniong CFA and Bacchus Marsh SES.
Mr Mills said he was honoured to accept the Mayors award.
“If we have the opportunity to work with the the community, we do it,” he said.
“When Darley Neighbourhood House recently asked for help to raise money for a defibrillator, we instantly said yes”.
The 2017 Business Excellence Awards were held at the Wallace Hotel on Friday October 27.
Cr Edwards commended the Ballan and District Chamber of Commerce for their efforts.
“It’s not very often we get to celebrate the businesses in our own region, and I think it’s great that we recognise those businesses because they are the heartbeat of our community,” he said.
“Moorabool has about 65 per cent of its workforce that has to travel outside of our Shire every day to go to work, so every single business in this room is a winner in my eyes, because they employ people and they employ people locally”.