A PASSIONATE advocate for the Shoalhaven, community minded, who drove a number of major local projects is how the late Milton Lay is being remembered.
Mr Lay passed away recently after suffering a massive stroke after undergoing heart valve surgery.
For 14 years he was the executive officer of the Shoalhaven Area Consultative Committee (SACC) and was the driving force behind a number of local projects and numerous local grant applications for projects worth $9000 up to the $3 million Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre.
The Federal Government funded 54 area consultative committees around Australia to act as links between business and community groups and government bodies.
As the committee wrapped up in 2009, Mr Lay said it had "been a privilege to have worked with business and the community".
He said the committee had had "quite an impact on youth development and with the indigenous community in regard to employment and training."
"We've also had quite a focus on the development of young people in volunteering and working closely with the high schools on a number of initiatives," he said.
Mr Lay said one of the great things about area consultative committees was that they were able to be the conduit between local community and the government in gaining funds for local projects.
Great friend Alan Mulley paid tribute to Mr Lay saying he always put the Shoalhaven first.
"He was involved in so many projects," he said "that provided great things for the Shoalhaven."
"He was instrumental in writing hundreds of local submissions for funding grants," Mr Mulley said.
"And was quite successful in gaining funding for numerous community developments and major infrastructure - one of the major projects was the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre.
"I worked with him for almost 10 years as assistant project manager. He was a delight to work for and we became very, very good friends.
He was a delight to work for and we became very, very good friends. Just a good fun bloke, serious about his work, very conscientious and parochial about the Shoalhaven.Alan Mulley
"He loved music and we went to a number of concerts together. Just a good fun bloke, serious about his work, very conscientious and parochial about the Shoalhaven.
"His sudden loss was a big shock."
Former Gilmore MP Jo Gash said Mr Lay was "often a sounding board" and was "very passionate and persuasive".
"I remember he came along to meet John Howard [then Prime Minister] and explain the Shoalhaven Cadets Scheme, as it was known at the time.
"It was later known as the Youth Volunteer Program - it was for kids who didn't want to go to school but have something to do. Unfortunately, the programs didn't eventuate as we'd hoped.
"But he convinced John Howard to look at it seriously and fund it - that took some doing - that's how brave he was."
Ms Gash said she knew Mr Lay "for a long time" and he was a "very good friend".
"He was always an ear for me to run things past as a federal member," she said.
"And he would give you an honest opinion, even if you didn't agree with it.
He was always an ear for me to run things past as a federal member. And he would give you an honest opinion, even if you didn't agree with it.Former Gilmore MP Jo Gash
"He was a community-minded person and not many people knew that.
"He wasn't out there going 'look at me, look at me', he did things quietly, behind the scenes and was instrumental in getting a lot of programs for Gilmore when I was MP.
"He was a people person, even though people didn't often see how he worked for the community.
"I really missed him when he went up to his island home and was very upset to hear he had died."
Some of the Shoalhaven Area Consultative Committee's outstanding list of achievements
- .1996: four projects approved at $18,980.
- .2001-2005: seven projects approved worth more than $1 million.
- .1997-2005: 39 projects approved worth more than $2.5 million.
- .2005-2009: 32 projects approved with more than $6 million.
- .2007: Fishing Community Assistance program to projects worth $1.5 million.
- .2000-2008: Year 12 indigenous graduation, 200
- students recognised.
- .2008: Shoalhaven Kokoda Experience 38 people undertook training and trek.
- .2008-2009: Indigenous Employment Expo, more than 700 students and jobseekers attended.
Shoalhaven businessman and former SACC deputy chair, John Lamont, said Mr Lay had achieved a "tremendous amount for the local community".
"He understood the community very well. Understood what was needed in regards to regional and economic development," he said.
He understood the community very well. Understood what was needed in regards to regional and economic development. Did a tremendous amount for the local community.John Lamont
"He worked with the government on behalf of the Shoalhaven community to ensure this region got great projects up and running.
"Projects like Shoalhaven Water's Reclaimed Water Management Scheme (REMS) , a tea tree oil trial and of course there was his work in Kokoda."
Mr Lamont described him as a "mentor".
"Milton really transformed the way I looked at community groups in the Shoalhaven and other people," he said.
"The trip to Kokoda where we built a large community hall to educate the people of Kokoda was brilliant.
"That project significantly changed the lives of the people in the village, providing them with fresh water from water tanks and a place for a preschool and junior school to get up and running."
Mr Lamont has now been back three times.
"Milton led regular teams back to maintain the hall, repaint it and maintain it where necessary. He kept close contacts in the community and the people of Kokoda."
Mr Lamont said he was a mentor to many local business people.
"He ensured that other people like myself, were given the opportunities to develop our leadership skills in our community," he said.
"A very caring person who looked to do whatever he could for the community - the community was always first rather than what he could do for himself."
Known as Milton from Milton, Mr Lay had a background in banking and along with his wife Helen established and ran the highly successful Millard's Cottage, a top class restaurant.
"He used his banking background to help write grant submissions and he really worked the government system for the benefit of the Shoalhaven," Mr Lamont said.
"He always had a list and was a bit like Santa, he always checked it twice.
"A fantastic individual who deserves recognition.
"I was shocked when I found out about his death."
After retiring, Milton and his wife Helen holidayed up north and fell in love with Magnetic Island where they relocated to and lived for a number of years.
According to Mr Mulley he had been "taken with island life".
It was only recently that they had relocated back to the mainland in Townsville.