Steve Bloxham has helped transform the Terang RSL from an old tin shed to much-used community space.
His contribution has been recognised with Mr Bloxham awarded the Shrine of Remembrance Medal following this year’s Remembrance Day Service.
Mr Bloxham arrived in the district in 2013, joined the RSL in 2014 and became president the following year.
From the outset, he had a plan to reinvigorate the organisation and boost the recognition of the district’s servicemen and women.
“The vision I had was to resurrect it and now it’s a traditional RSL,” he said.
Mr Bloxham lists curating the RSL’s memorabilia and creating a museum within the building as one of the most important steps.
“It’s an important way to remember and respect families from the district and the fact that they served,” he said.
Diligent research has been undertaken and display cabinets full of memorabilia now adorn the walls of the Terang RSL building.
Many families have since come forward with their own items, such as medals and diaries, to contribute to the collection.
Educating younger generations has also become an important part of Terang RSL’s work, and a replica World War I dugout within the building itself has contributed to the organisation’s education program.
“The education side of things is also very important,” Mr Bloxham said.
Outside the building, a memorial garden has been created and murals help tell the story of the district’s contribution in war.
Mr Bloxham also helped with the creation of a war memorial in Noorat, and was instrumental in returning dawn services to Noorat and Terang.
It was believed that there would be little interest in a dawn service in a small town, but in its first year about 500 people attended.
Mr Bloxham said the award was important recognition not only the RSL’s work, but also the wider community.
“It’s not just for me, it’s for all those who have been involved,” he said.
“It’s an acknowledgement of the massive support network in the community, for example our op shop here has been so generous in funding.”
Mr Bloxham was nominated for the medal by Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan.
The Shrine Medal has been awarded annually since 2008 to an individual or group in recognition of their contribution to boost community knowledge and understanding of the service and sacrifice of Victorians in war and peacekeeping efforts.