Neville Gibbs carries a trampoline with a young gymnast, with another smiling Morphett Vale Youth Club member behind them.

Published on 17 January 2024

Honouring a lifetime of selfless service

Meet Neville Gibbs OAM, a City of Onkaparinga champion and true community legend.

At 85 years of age, Neville Gibbs has spent the better part of eight decades laying the foundation for a lifetime of service, and in doing so, has left an in indelible mark on the local community.

Highlighting the value of volunteering, Neville has recently been honoured with an Every Generation Onkaparinga Award for his outstanding dedication to the task at hand.

Recognising his significant contributions towards positive ageing within the City of Onkaparinga, particularly his involvement with the Morphett Vale Youth Club (MVYC), this award celebrates those who act as inspirational role models, foster respect between generations and who embrace the philosophy of maintaining a positive attitude, feeling good about yourself, keeping fit and healthy, and engaging fully in life as you age.

Neville's unwavering commitment to the MVYC is testament to the impact one person can have on the lives of many.

Beginning at the tender age of six, his journey with gymnastics saw him become a volunteer instructor at his local club, the Edwardstown Boys gymnastics Club, by the age of 13 and secretary by 18.

His passion for coaching and desire to move further south saw him co-found the MVYC. Opening in 1967, he has proudly watched this vision grow from a modest group of 28 members to a thriving community hub of over 130 today.

Operating from the Hackham East Primary School gym—a purpose-built facility funded collaboratively by the MVYC and the primary school through dedicated fundraising efforts, as well as grants from the Education Department and the council—the club’s inclusive ethos is clearly demonstrated through its actions.

Known for its welcoming approach to gymnastics and commitment to inclusivity, the MVYC caters to all ages and abilities, with a primary focus on fun and recreation over competition, to ensure a friendly, relaxed environment.

Now a life member—whilst still fulfilling the role of secretary—Neville continues to be a pivotal figure within the club, and his ongoing fundraising efforts, alongside those of other volunteers, have been key in keeping membership fees affordable for all.

Neville reflects on the club’s success and how volunteering there has shaped his life.

“The MVYC has always been about more than gymnastics. It’s about building a community where everyone is welcome,” he said.

“Being part of the club has provided a sense of purpose and helped me make wonderful connections within the area.”

But Neville’s influence extends beyond the MVYC.

His long-standing involvement in both local graffiti removal and with the Australian Milking Machine Trade Association—stemming from his family business in dairy machinery—showcase a wide range of community contributions, earning him a well-deserved Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2011.

With this incredible achievement under his belt, alongside several other honours, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask why he continues to volunteer.

“It’s simple. I love it. The hours I spend volunteering bring joy not just to club members, but to me as well. It's been a part of my life for so long – it’s second nature,” he shares.

"Seeing the club and its community flourish is the real reward."

Despite his many accolades, Neville remains focused on the future of the Morphett Vale Youth Club.

"While I'm trying to take a step back, the need for more long-term volunteers is ever-present. I'm happy to keep contributing for as long as I can, but it would be great to see more volunteers come on board to make sure our young members have a place to enjoy well into the future," he adds.

Justin Ifould, City of Onkaparinga’s Community Wellbeing Officer, says you can't put a price on the value of people like Neville.

"Volunteers are the lifeblood of our community. Their dedication and hard work make a significant difference in enhancing the lives of local residents,” Justin said.

“Neville’s contributions truly are a shining example of this, and it shows the impact one person can have.

“He is a fantastic role model who continues to demonstrate what older people in our region are capable of, and we hope his story encourages others to find their own path in volunteering – there are plenty of opportunities across a range of programs within the City of Onkaparinga, and new volunteers are always welcome.

“Special thanks must also go to Neville for accepting his nomination, as many people like him don’t do what they do for recognition. We hope that with their acceptance, and the sharing of their special stories, we can encourage many others to stay actively involved and engaged in their communities, and age positively as a result.”

Since its establishment in 2006, the Every Generation Onkaparinga (EGO) Celebrating Positive Ageing program has recognised 143 individuals and 64 groups through its annual awards, celebrating the outstanding achievements and valuable contributions people of all ages, cultures and abilities have made to positive ageing in our district.

Encouraging individuals and groups to get involved with positive ageing, and recognising their contributions through the EGO Awards, is key to ensuring cohesive intergenerational communities within Onkaparinga and to remind individuals that they can still meaningfully contribute to their communities regardless of their age or ailments. 

Held annually, the Every Generation Onkaparinga (EGO) Awards are a fantastic platform to recognise the outstanding contributions of others within Onkaparinga.

If you know someone like Neville, or a group that’s contributing to positive ageing, then the council would love you to consider nominating them for this year’s EGO Awards, opening in July.

For more information please visit the council’s website or call the Community Development team on 8384 0666.

Recipients of the 2023 Every Generation Onkaparinga Award were:

Intergenerational category winner - GKR Karate Region 23

Based in Lonsdale, GKR Karate has been teaching students from age four through to those in their 80s for over 30 years.

Its focus is on building better people holistically, so students are expected to pursue the highest standards of personal character through a spirit of effort and perseverance, exercising courtesy and respect towards others and being faithful and sincere in everything you do.

The late Sensei Barry was something of a ‘Pied Piper’, with a line of children always following him around for advice. His recent passing was keenly felt, however there are many senior members within the club that continue give advice and offer support to young and old. No matter the age, every person is celebrated for their achievements.

Group category winner - Rotary Club of McLaren Vale

Despite being a small club, the Rotary Club of McLaren Vale contributes enormously to the local community.

Since its formation in 1978, the club has supported international student exchanges, youth enrichment programs, fundraising for various charities, providing food provisions for families doing it tough, and providing resources and speakers to local schools on topics like addiction prevention.

It’s a small club with a big heart, making a world of difference in the south.

More about the Morphett Vale Youth Club

A welcoming environment for all ages (4+) and abilities to enjoy gymnastics, the Morphett Vale Youth Club holds classes on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in the Hackham East Primary School gym. Free come and try sessions are also available, where everyone is encouraged to give gymnastics a go.

To find out more, or to volunteer, visit the MVYC website, or contact the club on 0419 326 204.

Want to volunteer with the City of Onkaparinga?

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer across a range of council run programs.

Current volunteer vacancies can be viewed on the council’s website, and applications can be submitted online.


Every Generation Onkaparinga Award winner Neville with Morphett Vale Youth Club members Annette and Ameera.