Hot on the heels and hips of the highly successful Women of Queanbeyan calendar in 2019, all will be revealed in August this year in an 18-month calendar that will show the best (and worst) of the men of Queanbeyan.
Almost 200 men were wrangled for 18 separate photoshoots, from men with a strategically placed chamois in a car wash to baguettes in a bakery. (Among them a certain Queanbeyan-based RiotACT journalist – Editor.)
There is a very serious side to the calendar, though, which will raise significant funds for a much-needed respite care facility in Queanbeyan. It’s the dream of the ‘founding mother’ of the Rise Above Cancer Support Group, Yvonne Cuschieri.
Land in Queanbeyan and government funding have been secured for the $1.5 million, purpose-built, six-bedroom facility that will be the first of its kind in NSW. It will provide short-term professional residential care for people aged 18 to 59 years suffering from a terminal or chronic illness and their carers in the Queanbeyan-Palerang region.
A petition signed by more than 2000 people, including a majority of doctors in Queanbeyan, has also pushed for the NSW State Government to provide ongoing financial support to run the facility that is expected to cost $1 million a year.
After the Women of Queanbeyan calendar launch raised more than $86,000 for Rise Above in one night, organiser Gillian Southwell hopes to crack the $100,000 mark for the men’s calendar at the launch on 14 August after securing the Queanbeyan Racecourse as the venue.
The 1920s-themed ball will see the community come together after more than 18 months of photoshoots that were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gillian described the photoshoots as “an eye-opener”, to say the least.
“We’ve got two photoshoots to go, and so far we’ve had 157 men from Queanbeyan. Sometimes you’re lucky if the men all turn up, but the fellas have been great. Most of them take it all off, some don’t, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Self-appointed ‘man collector’ and Queanbeyan personality Rocky Burnell said the men’s calendar is a classic example of the community showing, and showing off, its support for a much-needed cause.
“The Queanbeyan community is just like the postcode – it’s 2620 to the core,” Rocky said. “Any time you put the call out to organise something, the community just keeps putting its hand up to help.
“The respite centre is needed so much, and it’s going to happen, but things such as this calendar are essential to it happening too.”
Queanbeyan Tigers’ Australian Football Club’s first-grade captain Josh Bryce said it was a “no-brainer” getting players and club stalwarts naked for their photoshoot involving surfboards and a Kombi van.
“We pulled in all as many past players as we could, and there were blokes I hadn’t seen before – the old fellas literally,” he laughs. “But what was revealed was the character of the Queanbeyan community. We had a day’s notice and then everyone was there for the shoot, ready to go.”
For Queanbeyan Blues Rugby League Club stalwart Vern Browne, who has been a part of Blues for more than four decades, their shoot was a family affair with grandson Jack McCallum getting involved for relatives who have been personally affected by cancer.
For Gillian Southwell, a cancer survivor, both calendars have been embraced in ways that will put the people of Queanbeyan on the map.
“I’ve got to know so many people through this calendar and it’s bonded people in some amazing ways,” she said. “It’s like the women’s calendar. I’ve seen parts of people I wouldn’t usually see but we’ve shared a lot of laughs for a very, very good cause.”
You can find out more on the Respite Care Centre for Queanbeyan website, or be a part of the Men of Queanbeyan calendar launch in August via the event on Facebook where the first calendars will be revealed.