✦ November 19 is the date on the calendar where men the world over are positioned front and centre as part of International Men’s Day.
The occasion, first founded in 1992, strives to shine on a light on many of the issues facing men in the current climate, including mental health, suicide, parental alienation, abuse, homelessness and violence. As the official International Men’s Day website explains, it is a chance to “celebrate the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities... [to] highlight positive role models and raise awareness of men’s well-being.” This year’s theme is ‘Zero Male Suicide’.
The premise behind the occasion is something we at Brilliant-Online regularly champion, having featured numerous stories of achievement and dedication to their communities by various men, while constantly maintaining a focus on the importance of a robust health regime, mentally and physically. We also ensure that we keep an eye on tomorrow’s generation, profiling the wonderful exploits of youngsters in the community, such as Cameron Bullock who recently became the youngest pilot-in-command in Australia when he completed his first solo flight. We therefore thought it would be apt to look back and revisit a few of the magnificent men we have met over the past few years to once again celebrate their achievements on International Men’s Day.
Regular readers of Brilliant-Online will no doubt be more than familiar with the TG’s Child Care story. The preschool and long day care provider for children 6 weeks to 6 years old is a trusted and respected institution in the Port Macquarie and surrounding areas, with six centres catering for locations in NSW and QLD. TG’s was founded by husband-and-wife Trevor and Gayle Kee almost a quarter of a century ago and it is the former, an expert landscape designer, who has been so instrumental in crafting magical gardens for the children to enjoy that is such a vital component of their experience. The joy Trevor brings to countless children through his visionary, award-winning gardens cannot be underestimated and it is why we doff our cap to him on International Men’s Day. Oh, and a fun fact about Trevor - he enjoys flying in his new Cirrus!
Another local star is David Lazarus of Port AdVenture Cruises, a man for whom entertainment is in the blood! David’s story goes back to the 1970s when he worked with Donnie Sutherland on the hugely popular national music TV show “Sounds” on the 7 Network. Since then he has rubbed shoulders with countless celebrities in the entertainment world, while his Rhythmboat has become a mainstay in local circles for providing some of the best live entertainment around. The Rhythmboat is also heavily invested in the local community in regards to hosting numerous charity and fundraising events.
Other local male stars we have profiled include Dr Raj Singh of Ocean Dental Surgery, the dentist who places comfort and trust ahead of all else, Post Macquarie’s flying physio Alasdair Thomson, and Stu from Reptile Solutions who gave us all an invaluable education lesson on snakes. Steve Brbich told us all about the joy of fatherhood, while Mark Wilson invited us into his man cave, which doubles as a workshop for his passion of handcrafting stunning leadlight creations and restorations, and world record-holder Chayne Hultgren, aka the ‘Space Cowboy’ gave us an insight into his fascinating street and freak show performance world. We also had the pleasure to talk with Marty Rhone, Australian singer-songwriter and Producer of the ‘ELVIS - The Biggest Elvis Show on Earth’.
Elsewhere, we met renowned biomedical engineer and inventor Jordan Nguyen who is harnessing the power of technology to create a world where disability needn’t mean complete lack of inclusion. Jordan has developed numerous innovative creations to help those with disabilities and has gone on to become a published author, respected authority and keynote speaker, while presenting documentaries on ABC and Channel 10 in Australia. In 2016 he was nominated for Australian of the Year and recognised as one of Australia’s most innovative engineers. Take a bow sir and keep up the great work!
Andy Cheung is another who has crafted an impressive career in an area that is a passion: photography. Andy turned his back on a successful career in IT to pursue his true passion and has managed to forge a career that has seen him receive more awards than most of us have had hot dinners! Sports photography is his main focus (excuse the pun!) and he regularly shoots at some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events, such as the women’s FIFA World Cup, sailing, basketball, football and all the major global tennis tournaments. Andy remains one of the most respected and in-demand sports photographers in the world, a true master craftsman at the top of his game!
Role Models in the Community
Dedicating time to local community and helping those less fortunate is something many of the men we have profiled in recent years excel at. Many of these have been located on the paradise island of Phuket in Thailand, where our editor is based. Most recently we have former Brilliant-Online editor Robin Wilson who is taking part in the annual Laguna Phuket Triathlon in Thailand to raise money to help stray dogs and cats on the island. It might just be coincidence that Robin’s challenge falls on November 19, the actual day celebrating International Men’s Day, but his bike ride, swim and run will go a long way to helping the many four-legged friends who have been abandoned and forgotten.
Similarly, we have Grant ‘Axe’ Rawlinson who will swim the 130-kilometre distance around Phuket next January to help raise funds for a children’s school on the island. Back in 2021, we met John Bennett who took on the monumental feat of replicating the famed Tour de France on the tropical Thai island, cycling a distance of 3,417km over a 21-day period to raise funds for a local charity initiative called One Phuket which supported many people left devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic at the time. Last but not least, we have Alexis Plantard who runs a mixed martial arts Dojo in Phuket and who has become a centrepoint in the local community, helping youngsters become better versions of themselves while serving as a role model at all times.
Further afield we have heard the stories of world-renowned chef Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook during his recent visit to Sydney, Aussie Formula 3 racing driver Dylan Young, long-lost 70s musician Sixto Rodriguez who became a hero in apartheid South Africa, and world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury who went into depth regarding his struggles outside of the ring with mental health issues.
Last but not least, we have championed the Movember cause, an invaluable awareness initiative that drives so much positivity in the world of men’s health. It’s not just Magnum P.I., Merv Hughes and Salvador Dali that can lay claim to sporting fantastic facial hair as every year millions of men worldwide neglect the razor to grow a mo and show solidarity with their brothers.
All of these wonderful men and all of their stories are to be celebrated, not just on International Men’s Day on November 19, but all year round. It has been a privilege to hear their stories and we look forward to many more to come.
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