by Luke Voogt
A Corio man who played music for seniors for 15 years and drove them to Melbourne for hospital appointments has won an Australia-wide award.
Tony Strain, 71, won the 2019 Irish Australian Person of the Year last month for decades of sharing Celtic culture across Geelong.
Geelong Irish Society president Deirdre O’Hara nominated Tony for his hours cooking sausage sizzles and organising events for the group.
“He does a tremendous amount to promote Irish culture in Geelong,” she said.
“No one is more deserving of this award than Tony. He works tirelessly, fundraising for the Geelong Irish Society and helping out at all of our events.”
The “enthusiastic and charming” Tony had visited retirement villages and nursing homes for the past 15 years playing the bodhran and singing, Deirdre said.
The Irish expat played at venues around Geelong and visited the society’s older members at home and in hospital, she said.
He also took them to appointments, including driving a member’s wife to a Melbourne hospital daily to visit her husband when he was admitted.
Tony migrated to Australia with his family at age 18 in 1966 and worked at Ford for six months.
He then served a year’s national service in the Vietnam War beginning in 1969 before working for Shell for 27 years.
Tony is one of the longest-serving members of Geelong Irish Society and has held leadership positions in the group for 15 years, according to Deirdre.
“His dedication to the society and to the promotion of Irish culture and heritage is outstanding.”