From a medic in the Navy and an avid rugby player, this month’s member in the spotlight knows a thing or two about working as a team, and the mateship that goes with it. That’s one of the reasons he first joined the Nerang RSL and we’re now delighted to share his story – meet, Mr. Bob Graham!
Since joining the Nerang RSL in 2011, Bob has become a familiar face to many – thanks to his involvement across the club in selling raffles for the Vietnam Veterans of Australia Association, maintaining the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden and simply, pulling up a pew in the #4211SportzBar.
Although a fan of the club’s hot chicken wings coupled with the perfect red, Bob says he was first drawn to the Nerang RSL for its sense of comradery and mateship in the community.
“I joined the Navy in 1968 as a medic onboard HMAS Moresby, which circumnavigated Australia doing survey work before traveling to Singapore and Jakarta,” he said.
“There was a very special bond formed with fellow military servicemen and servicewomen and it’s nice to be able to visit communities like Nerang RSL and Memorial Club to replicate that feeling.
“As part of my time in the Navy, I was also a member of the Navy Colts Under 21’s rugby team, which was great fun. If I had duty on the weekends on the base and had to play rugby that day, I would be assigned to the team coach as my duty, which meant I got to play rugby.
“The mateship I experienced – whether it was onboard or on the footy field, is something I’ll never forget and it’s that same sense of spirit I feel, whenever I walk into the Nerang RSL.”
Bob also dedicated twenty-five years to the Department of Civil Aviation where he was a flight service officer and air traffic controller in various locations across Australia, before finishing his working life on the Gold Coast as a Surfside Bus Driver.
And since joining the Nerang RSL, Bob has become involved in regular volunteer work at the club and you’ll often find him selling meat raffle tickets or maintaining the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden.
“I was truly honoured to have been nominated as caretaker of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden,” he said.
“I believe it’s a sign of respect to those who passed or didn’t return from service, to ensure the memorial gardens are well maintained. It’s a place of reflection and remembrance, so I take pride in keeping the gardens in shape, whether it be watering them or completing general maintenance as required.
“When I’m not caretaking, I sell meat raffles as part of the Vietnam Veterans of Australia Association to support different functions and community groups.
“I do this alongside three of my mates who are also ex-servicemen and we really enjoy the opportunity to get involved. There’s a lot of banter and comradery between us too! The Nerang RSL is certainly a special place and I simply couldn’t pick a better community to be part of.”
‘A man of many talents’ – that’s how most people describe Nerang RSL’s member of the month, Ben Samin.
Whether you’ve seen him performing with the globally renowned band Madison Kat, coaching champion martial artists, or working behind the scenes at one of Nerang RSL’s reputable services – Ben’s ‘community spirit’ is one of his most notable traits.
With a background in architectural and engineer model making, Ben joined Nerang RSL more than a decade ago and after taking on several different roles across the Club, is now a regarded board member.
Ben first joined the Nerang RSL after a stint with his popular band Madison Kat – first known as the ‘Gold Coasters’ – when he travelled with the American Army to Vietnam to provide some respite for soldiers.
“The 1970s were a standout year for our family-run show band. My brothers and I were able to travel to Vietnam to perform and provide a bit of Christmas fun and respite to the soldiers, at a time when they needed it most,” he said.
“We spent three months in Vietnam and it was a great feeling to see the effect music, and some extra support, could have on the soldiers and I still to this day remember the smiles on their faces. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget and that feeling of providing mateship and support is mirrored at the Nerang RSL and it’s one of the reasons I was keen to get involved in the Club.”
Fifty years on and Madison Kat now performs as a third-generation band. Ben’s sons and nephew have all embraced the band and continue to rock it out weekly.
However music isn’t the only thing Ben holds close to his heart, but also Martial Arts. He’s a local coach at Nerang PCYC and the Australasian Martial Art Studies (AMAS) Principal. Ben was also chosen by late Master of Bu Di Zhen Kung Fu to re-write family history and guide future directions of Bu Di Zhen Kung Fu.
“I really enjoy teaching martial arts and guiding my students to set and reach goals in the sport,” he said.
“I’ve taught 24 Australian Champions and recently returned from Japan where one of my students came second in the Open Championship’s. Nothing beats that feeling of seeing students compete and have ‘that moment’ when they realise their hard work is paying off – whether in training or on the world stage – it’s a large part of why I do what I do.
“We often sell raffle tickets at Nerang RSL to raise money for our students to compete in tournaments and competitions across the globe, so it’s great to also have the support of the community.”
Ben says he’s very humbled to be part of the Nerang RSL community and since joining the RSL Board over six years ago, continues to enjoy the opportunities it brings.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to work alongside the team on the RSL Board and get involved in our local community,” said Ben.
“It’s very busy and there’s always something to do, whether helping to organise one of our many services like Remembrance and ANZAC Day or attending meetings and helping out with community projects, but I wouldn’t change it.
“It’s a nice feeling to know I’m doing my part to help out across the community and I’ve met so many great people in the process.”