Members Behind the Badge
Karolina Sevcikova:   
I was born in year 1945.   19th September here in Hawthorn, Melbourne. My dad was a hospital orderly in the  Australian Army, during World War II. After the war he came back, met my mother ‘Olive’, they’d gone to same school and she lived in the same street. Soon they got married and had me. I am the only child, no siblings.
My earliest memory is of my 5th Birthday, when I went with a doll in a pram too get a cake from a shop in Auburn.
Soon after my father returned from war, he re-trained to be a hairdresser and we moved to Traralgon in Gippsland. I spent the years from tween to teenage there, first I went to Stockdale Road and Grey Street primary schools and then moved to Traralgon high school.
 
High School, first dance and passion….
First year in high school, I’d organised a rock and roll concert for primary grade students. It was the first memorable recognition I received for my effort, gives me fuzzy warm feelings to date. During these years, all my pocket money would be spent on records! Johnny O'Keefe – Shout Shout, Let it all out is an all time favorite. There’d be a club called, ‘Karma’ near Gippsland, in another town Morwell, my father would drive me there for dancing. There was lots of music and dancing in those days.
 
What makes Karolina?
Both my parents were very community oriented, they believed in giving back and that got instilled on me very early on.
Early on my parents put me in Brownies and then girl guides and in the 1956 Olympics games, I participated in dancing.  
My father’s story of service in war, being a RAT of Tobruk, my mother’s involvement in Country Woman Association (CWA) has kept me going with community involvement all these years. I have been a member of CWA for 36 years now; I serve in board of RAT of Tobruk, we meet every month. I am also a member of Czech and Italian community, catering voluntary as when requests come, same with Albert Park Yachting club, I am Volunteer chef there. I am very passionate about helping young members of the community and mentor at Wellington high rise and also serve the incarcerated women in prison.
 
I love connection and people, I think young people need to believe in themselves and their skills. Somehow, through my life experience, I developed empathy for the marginalised, migrants and women and the hope to be of help is what keeps me going.
 
Early career and working years
After High school, I came back to Melbourne and trained to be hairdresser at the Academy. I remember it cost me £7.5 during those days. I joined a hair salon in Forest Hill, but my direct nature saw me walk myself out of the job I loved and invested so much on. “People would often come with celebrity pics and ask for a cut to look like them all the time.” I just would often think and sometimes balk out, ‘You need me have the face too’.
I then went to Emily Mcpherson, now known as William Angliss to train as a chef, developing a career I have come to love and appreciate every day. It has taken me to places, one particular experience was at the Esso/BHP Billiton joint venture at Australia's first offshore well in Bass Strait. The head of Esso was coming and she was charged with preparing sweets, Pavlova and Lamingtons. I went a step further and knowing the love of Americans for quotes and poems, so designed the dining area with gum and wattle leaves and added a quote in the menu that read, ‘Don’t wait for the ship to come in, swim out to it’. The Esso founder was very impressed and praised me highly.
This is another appreciation that I remember from early career, which has shaped my willingness to go an extra step.
Making scones for 25 years at Melbourne show for CWA is definitely another career highlight!
 
Source: https://www.abc.net.au/melbourne/programs/drive/recipe-cwa-show-scones/10148058
 
 
 
Marriage, Family and friendships
I married at 18 to a Hungarian man who I met through her friend. I consider myself to be lucky to have found love and life experiences in my marriages. My oldest son Sandor is in the Australian army, he is 38 years in service now & continuing. Through my second marriage, I have 2 kids and I have been involved in Czech community since. During my second born child, I met Susan, its been 36 years since and being honest, caring and offering support to each other has cemented our friendship.
Rotary and Introduction to Flem Kensington club…
I was introduced to Rotary when Retro Girls performed for Seniors festival at Anothony Street, Anne reached out to me and I started with helping Anne with Op Shop as required. It was lovely to spend the time with
John, Anne and Edith as they were resetting and organising the shop then.
 
Travel experiences you have enjoyed most
I have enjoyed lots of places, Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Fiji, Bali but my fondest memory is that of my visit from CWA to India. There I met a princess from Malaysia, now, Her Majesty Queen Azizah of Malaysia, WI of Pahang, she gifted me a cook book and she was just so lovely! I am going to Malaysia this year and I hope to meet her there.
 
if you could make one major change in society it would be
I’d get people to be more kinder and tolerant to migrants.
If you could have anyone, who’s is coming to dinner?
Quentin Bryce
Three things have you discovered that are most important in life?
Family, friends and community
The last word
Life is for living, living is by believing and being kind! 
 
RAT Of Trobuk – Karolina’s account
The Rats of Tobruk were soldiers of the Australian-led Allied garrison that held the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Corps, during the Siege of Tobruk in World War II. The siege started on 11 April 1941 and was relieved on 10 December. The port continued to be held by the Allies until its surrender on 21 June 1942.
My father, Donald George Wells was under siege for 9 months, during this time, there was a day when they performed 1200 surgeries within the period of 24 hours. Their experience and account of 9 months of horror also shines a light on resilience and fellowship. In their time there, they were given 1 liter of water everyday that they had to use for remaining hydrated and get other hygiene business done. When they came back home, they couldn’t connect back with their family and community. The Billiard Hall in Albert Park was purchased for veterans to find connection and comfort in each other’s company.
 
It was understood that ROTA Melbourne was the only building to have been purchased outright in 1956.  
In 2008 it was auctioned and is now owned by Mr Bill Gibbins who has stated that it will be the Home of the Rats, while ever there is a Military presence in the Hall.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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 Len Seddon
 Wednesday, 24th August, Leonard and Shraddha met for breakfast at Sugarbeat cafe close to their homes, and what followed was an interesting & insightful walk down a memory lane of Len's life which was lived on the philosophy of hard work, friendship and care for his family, friends and community.
Len was born 11 April 1933 in a small town in Victoria called Murtoa.  We moved when I was still young to Linga, situated between Ouyen and the South Australian border in the Sunraysia region.  There I went to Linga state school. My father was a Bank Manager, and my mother managed the Post Office until we moved to Melbourne in 1940, after my fathers' passing in 1937.
 
Len still remembers the 14 room house they had when his mother managed the Post Office in Linga, it brings back very fond memories of the place. It was getting difficult for my mother alone with two kids, so along with aunty Flo, her daughter Bev, mum, uncle Alan and I moved to Melbourne.
We lived initially in Fitzroy and eventually mum found work to manage a tennis court and milk bar in Union road. Alan & I joined Ascot Vale West Primary school.     
I was introduced to Rotary by another of my school mate Ron King in 1991.  He was the President at North Melbourne Rotary and we used to go to their Rotary dinners. Over one such dinner he introduced me to the president Ross Bradfield of Rotary Club of Flemington & soon after I joined.
In those days, Myers had a factory along the Maribyrnong River, so when I turned 15, I joined the upholstering and bedding section there.  After I completed my Merit Certificate, the skill in upholstering saw me move to TAA for fitting-in airplane seats. I did that for some time then moved to buy a taxi truck, I was about 22 then, & it was around that time that I met my lovely Audrey. The truck only had one seat in the front and she would have to sit in a pinata box. We married in 1956, it was the first Saturday of the Olympic games here in Melbourne.
As driving hours were not compatible to my married life, I joined Hunter products in manufacturing support.  Alan Hunter (with whom I'd gone to school) proved to be a great friend and support over the years. My career progressed to being the top salesmen to managing the whole production. We also moved to Queensland for 8 years. We eventually came back to Melbourne, and I continued working with Alan and Jo Ferrrara.
I have very much enjoyed and cherished my friendships:  the most with Alan Bruno, Geoff Cawsey, John Sklenar and so many more. The way we joined to host BBQ's every month, it gave me a sense of purpose in something bigger than us.
 
During PDG Vance Hilton's Presidency we hosted the District Conference at Canberra, I think the memory of that event is very fresh in my mind. It was known to be one of the best run events of the time.
 
In terms of travelling, Audrey and I travelled a fair bit around Europe, but my most revered one is the 15-day Rhine river cruise we took. 
 
 
I think the joy of people coming together in the local community where you knew each other and were supportive is harder to see now a days in physical form, they say people meet online, I don't understand how they feel connected in this space.
My favorite way to spend time these days is reading the newspaper in the morning, catching up with friends for lunch and when I can, I like to still be helpful in Rotary and business contacts.
Sport and hobbies: Len laughs!  Oh it has been a long time.  I used to play football at Ascot Vale, and we played with Hastings too.   I don’t play a musical instrument, but Audrey loved dancing so I would join her.
If you could make one major change in society it would be …. I would want people to be more tolerant of each other’s disagreements. People can have their say, agree to disagree and still be friends and respectful of each other’s choices.
 
Interesting fact about Murtoa: Prior to 1870 the town was known as Marma Gully. It is generally accepted that Murtoa means 'home of the lizard' in the language of the local First Nations people, probably the Jaadwa language group. There are a number of large lizard mosaic sculptures on the median strips in Marma and Duncan streets.
Interesting fact about Linga:  'The name Linga is believed to be an invented derivative from the traditional Aboriginal name Lar-gni which meant camp of ... because as a place to camp it was a place to linger.'Source: wikipedia
 
 
 
 
 
 
Guess who is coming to dinner.  Who would your dinner guests be?  It'd be you (to Shradd) and my nieces Leonie Dekker and Joanne Murray I've had dinner catered at my place and had had few neighbors along, I think you'd all love to meeting each other.  
What three things have you discovered that are most important in life?   Kindness, understanding and fairness. 
And the last word    Thank you to all that I have crossed paths with.
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Yvonne Farquharson
Yvonne was born Mt Beauty, where her father was working on the Snowy Hydro Scheme; the 3rd of three daughters with a younger brother. The family moved to Ballina NSW where she completed all her schooling. Her father is 99 and still lives in Ballina; her mother died in 2015.
Yvonne is married to Bob, an Agricultural & Resource Economist- for 44 years and they have 3 adult children (a geotechnical engineer, an archaeologist, and an editor in the publishing trade) and 4 grandchildren who live in NSW. Education is a big part of our family life! 
 
Yvonne gained a B.A. from the University of New England and a  Dip. Ed at the University of Canberra. Her whole whole working life has been in education, mostly teaching in high schools and primary schools. Her last role was as VCE Coordinator at Gilmore Girls College, Footscray.

In 2017 she founded “Filter Your Future” and created the "Healthy Kidneys Education Project”, an education program for young children to reduce the incidence of preventable chronic disease, aligned to National Curriculum and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 for Health and Well-being. The program is freely available for teachers across Australia and New Zealand.
 
Yvonne was a Rotary Exchange Student hosted by the Rotary Club of Wynberg in Cape Town, South Africa in 1973. She has always valued the ideal of service and the objects of Rotary and after retirement she reached out to the club. She was inducted at our Changeover evening in June.  
Rotary Exchange whet her appetite for travel. Her most recent travel experiences pre-pandemic were a fascinating boat trip in 2018 along the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar (Burma) and a ‘Women in Leadership’ 2019 Tour to Cambodia with World Vision, to visit education and health centres.
 
In her spare time, Yvonne likes to complete the daily NY Times Wordle, Quordle and Sudoko.  She also enjoys  swimming, Clinical Pilates and occasionally riding her bike when the weather is nice. She played field hockey and represented Australian Universities and the ACT in her younger, fit days.
The last word:  “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” I have applied that throughout my life, my faith and my teaching career.
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Shraddha Sharma - President 2022-2023
Shraddha was born in Khatmandu, Nepal.
She was the Foundation President of the Rotaract Club of Thamel in 2002-2004 after being encouraged to take on the role by her teachers and her father Santosh a Rotarian.
Shraddha has 2 siblings - younger brother and sister and they all studied in Melbourne. Shraddha studied a Bachelor of Information Services and started an internship at Australia Post.
While her brother and sister returned to Nepal to help their father in is business, Shraddha met her huisband Rakesh and stayed.  The4y have a daughter Samara.  The4y love travelling and try to find a different destination each time they return to Nepal and India to visit family.  Shraddha was actually stuck in Nepal for 9 months last year due to COVID restrictions after returning home for a family wedding.
 
She has held many varied technical roles at Australia Post and has worked as a Project Manager for the last 10 years. A problem solver by nature, she is constantly excited and challenged by her work.
 
Community involvement is her passion and apart from Rotary she participates in fundraisers when time allows.  In 215 in a Peter Mac Cure for Cancer event she cycled 200km in 2 days Around the Bay and raised over $2000.
 
In 2008 she was involved with the4 Nepalese community organising a Walk for Womens Welfare event which brought together more than 100 Nepalese women to share their experiences.
 
Shraddha is a Master Yoga Instructor and loves sharing yoga with others. As a busy working mum, she spends her weekends with friends and family and if time permits, curls up with a book. Lately due to lack of time she has been using Audible to listen to books: her latest obsession is Edith Egers "The Choice".
 
Shraddha is looking forward to Rotary being out in the community again after lockdowns. She is keen to identify opportunities for our members to connect with and work with local community organisations.  She imagines Rotary as the heart of the community and encourages everyone to connect with us.
 
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Past President Lesley McCarthy
 
Lesley was born in Warragul, East Gippsland and is the eldest of 4, with a sister and 2 brothers. She spent an idyllic childhood running free in the country where together with her black Labrador Kelly, her siblings and cousins explored the countryside.
 
Her family moved to Melbourne when she was 10 for her father's work.  He was a carpenter and a building inspector for the then Housing Commission.

Her first paid work was as a library assistant and childrens storyteller.  She then worked at the Botanic Gardens library and the Bailleau Library before training as a teacher.  She completed a BA and a Dip Ed.  She taught across the north and west of Melbourne, including stints at kindergartens and secondary schools before focusing on primary teaching.
In 1999, she was recognised for her work through the Herald Sun Monash University Teacher of the Year awards program with a Teacher of the Year for IT at Keilor Primary School.
In 2015, she was again recognised with a National Excellence in Teaching Award.
 
Her last post was as Principal at Flemington Primary School where she oversaw the construction of 2 major projects - a $3million+ gymnasium/hall/music performance centre and a $3million+ 2 story, 8 classroom modern IT focus building.  She also introduced iPads to the upper grades and promoted an environmental focus with solar panels, water tanks and the sustainable Schools Garden project.
 
Lesley is married to Bill {having recently celebrated their golden anniversary} and they have 2 children, David a teacher/musician who now works for the Dept of Veterans Affairs and a daughter Shannon who is a doctor in Geelong.  David is married to Erica.
 
She and Bill have long competed in motorsport {yes, she drives too fast!} and they have travelled extensively throughout Australia.
She has also travelled widely to Europe, Asia and the US, often accompanying Shannon to medical conferences.  In 2001 she presented an IT paper at the international conference in Copenhagen and in 2012, travelled to Finland on a Victoria Education study tour to explore what makes Finnish education so strong.  She has published a number of educational papers including a Data study with Harvard University.
 
Lesley joined Rotary in 2005 and has been involved in every committee along the way.  She has held the President role 4 times and has been webmaster and bulletin editor since 2010.  She has also held district roles over the years.  
 
Apart from Rotary - which doesn't leave much spare time, she loves her garden which is extensive. She has over 200 roses, fruit trees and veggies and brings produce into the Op Shop.  She is also a keen genealogist and has researched her family back to early 1600s Scotland.  Ireland is a bigger challenge!
Lesley is following in the footsteps of her parents who were heavily involved in their communities through the CWA, schools, clubs and other community groups. Coming from a country background, she believes i the power of community to support each other.
 
Her last word:  People may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will remember that you cared and how you made them feel. 
Rotary has an amazing power and network which brings people together to make a difference in someone's life every day.