Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Relay baton passed

Benalla's Bernice Vance has stepped down after two years as Relay for Life chairperson.

December 17, 2012 4:58am

Michael Donehue and Bernice Vance

The Benalla community has raised close to $100,000 in two years thanks to the efforts of Relay For Life.

But that wouldn’t have happened without the driving force of chairperson Bernice Vance — who, after two years at the helm of the organisation, has decided to turn her focus to bigger and further-reaching projects.

That doesn’t mean she’ll turn a blind eye to the cancer relay; Bernice said it was a two-year love affair that had consumed her countless hours — and no doubt has caused endless sleepless nights.

‘‘I am passionate about the relay, I can’t take that away just like that,’’ she said.

‘‘But I need to reprioritise my life and I have so many other projects on the go that require my full focus.

‘‘I will still be involved in a supporting and mentoring way on the day and in the lead-up, but I can’t commit to a committee position.’’

Bernice said she would turn her energy to the Hume Regional Integrated Cancer Service program which allows cancer patients, survivors and carers to be involved in the improving of oncology services.

‘‘It’s about getting them involved in the decision-making process and letting them know that their views do make a difference,’’ she said.

After working for countless hours behind the scenes for the past two years, Bernice said she hoped the community continued to offer the same support for the event as they have in the past.

‘‘I’ll be back for sure down the track, but right now I have to focus on these other projects — but I wish and hope the community provide the same level of involvement they have in the past, and even some of those step into committee roles,’’ Bernice said.

‘‘It is up to the community to now strengthen the foundation we already have. I believe a town like Benalla can do that.’’

Aside from her cancer project, Bernice is also on the interim council.

‘‘I really value the importance of education to our young people and I want to see through the merging of our schools,’’ Bernice said.

In the meantime, Bernice can rest assured that nearly $100000 for cancer programs and research has been raised under her knowledge, expertise and leadership.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Relay For Life co-ordinator Sam Hawkins said it was people such as Bernice who made the events such a success.

‘‘We at Cancer Council Victoria value all our volunteers and there is no doubt Bernice has been an asset to the Benalla relay,’’ Mr Hawkins said.

‘‘We do really appreciate her contribution, and are sad to see her go, but look forward to having a new chairperson.’’

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