Since 2005 the Rotary Club of Camberwell has provided two Bert Stevens Apprentice scholarships to worthy students undertaking apprenticeships at the Box Hill Institute. The annual scholarship is awarded in honour of the club’s revered charter member and skilled tradesman, the late Bert Stevens.
From left to right - President George de Souza, Joshua O’Connor and Dr Michael Blood at the recent scholarship presentation.
The Box Hill Institute has confirmed that this year’s scholarship is awarded to Joshua O’Connor. Joshua is studying a Certificate III in Carpentry and has been identified as an aspirational student who is dedicated to improving his skills. Joshua has excelled in his apprenticeship and his individual studies. He dreams of one day working in the construction industry and owning his own formwork business. There were three other Rotary clubs present at the dinner and they sponsored the following awards:
1. The Rotary Club of Mont Albert and Surrey Hills ‘Inducement to Succeed’ Scholarship,
2. The Rotary Club of Box Hill Central “Indigenous” Scholarship,
3. Rotary Club of Forest Hill “Ford Davis Award” for an Electrotechnology/Air-Conditioning Refrigeration apprentice.
Other supporters of Box Hill Institute scholarships are Susan Fenton, MOKE Owners Association, Chris Arnost, Clayton UTZ and HESTA.
BERT STEVENS – Reflections from the longest serving Camberwell Rotary member, Dr Michael Blood
Bert Stevens was a Charter member of the Rotary Club of Camberwell in 1956. His classification was Meat Retailing, later Meat Industry Leader. Over his 47-year membership, Bert was a Rotary Club of Camberwell President in 1961/62 and the District Governor`s Special Representative to charter the Rotary Club of Balwyn on 7 November 1972. He was the first Camberwell Rotary member to be recognised with a Paul Harris Fellow which was sponsored by the Balwyn Rotary Club.
He was named Citizen of the year, by the now Boroondara Council at one time but I don`t know what year it was. For most of his Rotary journey, Bert was ably supported by his wife ‘Stevie’. They were an inspirational couple.
Although Bert left school at the age of 12, to take up his apprenticeship as a butcher, he had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. He could speak authoritatively on a wide range of subjects and he liked to keep up with new technology such as computers which was at the cutting edge of technology at the time. I remember the late Les Brown, also a Charter club member, saying that Bert was light years ahead in merchandising and marketing presentations. A simple adjustment to his window display would entice a customer to come in resulting in increased sales. His shop window presentation in the North Balwyn Village was ahead his contemporaries.
Bert was especially connected with the Camberwell Art Show and was in charge of all paintings hung in the mortar gaps in the brick walls of the Camberwell Town Hall. He also had a gift as a peace maker when tensions inevitably arose during art show the setup, during the exhibition and winding up at the completion of the show. He was so highly respected for his ability to diffuse any problems amongst the members and volunteers. Fellowship was also an area where Bert shone. He generally had a twinkle in his eye and was very charming. His interests were listed as gardening, metalwork and music. With his strong apprenticeship background, Bert was very also adept with his hands. One of his memorable gestures, was making a jewellery piece for Bernadette to welcome her into the Club when I joined in 1976.
I believe that the club named the Scholarship for Apprentices at the Box Hill Institute in his honour, as a fitting tribute for his outstanding service to his profession and to Rotary. Bert died in the 2002/2003 Rotary year aged 95+ years. He was a committed and much-loved member for 47 years.