See you at the Skate Park on March 21!

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I would like to thank you all so much for the feedback following my February column about Je suis Charlie. It is good to know that so many read my column, it makes it all worthwhile. Our little newspaper is certainly contributing to the life of our village.

January and February have been two particularly exciting months with so many wonderful memories to share – in St Kilda and Melbourne in general. The St Kilda Festival was amazing, with over 410,000 people visiting us on the Sunday. For the first time a Grammy winner was on stage: Wally De Backer, or Gotye, who played drums and sang with his band The Basics on the main stage. What a great and humble guy, he was even his own roadie, packing part of his drum kit.

Yes, I was busy enjoying summer like many of us, but there are moments in life one will never forget. One of these is when I had to carry South African wheelchair tennis player Lucas Sithole on my back to the Oakley office, as they agreed to sponsor him. Two flights of stairs and no lift.

And then a few days later I carried Lucas onto the beach for a photo shoot. At that moment I realised what a mammoth effort this young man is making to compete in his sport and be part of the world’s elite. Playing tennis with just one arm… check out some of his videos via Google – very inspiring. Lucas was also named South African Disabled Athlete of the Year last year.

To spend a week at the Australian Open with 20 disabled athletes was such a privilege. Especially being with Stephane Houdet, ranked number 2 in the world in wheelchair tennis and who stayed with me – and considers St Kilda his second home – and Lucas who I showed around town when he wasn’t playing.

I am looking forward to next year as I am hoping that Lucas’ wife can come with him. It is a lot of hard work with very little money for the players as their prize money is ridiculously low. The winner earns less than $10,000, which taking into consideration all their travel expenses, is a bit unfair. Obviously, spending this time with people in wheelchairs gives me a different perspective on DDA compliance issues and requirements in my job as a Councillor.

2015 will be an exciting year. Our arts organisations have got excellent programs and I encourage you all to support them. Theatre Works and Red Stitch have got a few wonderful plays on, the Alex Theatre opened at the end of February and looks amazing. This is the theatre that was the George. Good luck to Aleks and Richard and thank you for contributing to St Kilda Arts Hub! I would also like to give a personal plug to the new show “The Importance of being Miriam” at the Arts Centre with Miriam Margolyes. I met Miriam through the #ilovemypalais campaign and we have become friends. She is a wonderful and generous lady and most probably one of the best actors I have ever seen. Google her on the Graham Norton show, some of her appearances are just hysterical. It is a very short season from March 17-22. Do yourself a favour and check out this world premiere.

To finish off this month, I must mention that I am also looking forward to the trial of a skate competition on March 21 at Marina Reserve. We have got the best skate park in Australia. Currently, the coastal consent we have for the area from the State Government does not include competitions but many people have asked for limited events and competitions to be allowed on the site.

We must consider this alongside the views of some residents who have expressed concerns about potential noise and disruption. You can tell us what you think online through Council’s Have Your Say page.

Also, come and support our young skaters on March 21 from 10am. It is the first championship for under 16s, with two competitions, one for children under 12 and one for under 16s. There are so many champions in the making at the moment that it will be very exciting to see them all excel – especially as the prize money is $10,000.

Good luck to my godson Ben who has been training all summer for this event. The event is organised by former world champion Renton Millar and sponsored by Globe. See you there!

Councillor Serge Thomann

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