Kaniva's Barry Witmitz wins Victorian Senior of the Year healthy living award

HONOUR: Kaniva's Barry Witmitz with Victorian Housing, Disability and Ageing Minister Martin Foley at the Victorian Senior of the Year awards, where Mr Witmitz won the Healthy and Active Living Award. Picture: CONTRIBUTED
HONOUR: Kaniva's Barry Witmitz with Victorian Housing, Disability and Ageing Minister Martin Foley at the Victorian Senior of the Year awards, where Mr Witmitz won the Healthy and Active Living Award. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

KANIVA’S Barry Witmitz is the definition of a ‘doer’.

Whenever anyone asks him for help, he is there without hesitation.

It is this dedication that led to him winning the Healthy and Active Living Award at the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards in Melbourne this week.

Mr Witmitz, 73, is the Kaniva Men’s Shed president, and also supports older and isolated people to attend community events. He is passionate about helping older people remain active in their communities.

“I’ve always loved helping others – my Dad instilled that in me,” he said.

“He always said, ‘If somebody needs a hand son, you do it because you never know when you might need something’.

“My wife says 'you don't know what the word no means', but it's a lovely way to be because you've always got something to do and it gives you a purpose to get out of bed in the morning.

“That is my lifestyle – I just go go go.”

Mr Witmitz helped establish the Kaniva Men’s Shed.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to get men out of the house,” he said.

“It started small, but now we’re getting 15 to 25 men every Tuesday.

“My ambition for the men's shed was plenty of coffee, tea and a fair bit of conversation, and it's worked a charm. It's about socialising and getting out and doing something.

“One of the little projects we’ve done is making tree guards for Landcare. Some of the gentlemen aren't capable of doing a lot else physically, but they loved sitting around in a circle doing that.”

Mr Witmitz said one of his projects this week was attending a meeting at Horsham’s Centre for Participation.

“They’re organising a bus to run between Kaniva and Horsham, through Dimboola, each Wednesday for people,” he said.

“I enjoy being involved in those sorts of things where you can make things happen – you meet a lot of people.

“I've driven people to Ballarat to hospital appointments and things.

“If someone says, ‘Can you give a hand?’, you do.

“I'm very lucky to have the town – I believe Kaniva is the greatest place in the world. I love it.”

Mr Witmitz said he was grateful to have his family with him when he accepted the award.

“I took my two sisters with me, who are 80 and 76, and my three children were there,” he said.

“My nephew who nominated me was there, and most importantly my wife – I had my complete family with me.

“I was so fortunate to have them all there, and that made receiving the award really special.”