Big-hearted basher Nev

by James Poyner
10th October 2016

The Warrandyte community is known for its supportive attitude and general giving nature.

The Colenso family have not only been in Warrandyte for half a century but have also been a shining example of that Warrandyte spirit.

Lyn Colenso set up the Bhava Centre on West End Road some 30 years ago while her daughter Maedy Colenso is a naturopath practitioner at the Possum Hollow natural health clinic.

However, the focus of the Diary’s attention for this profile is the family’s father, Neville (Nev) Colenso, a recently retired screen printer who has spent the best part of the past 10 years raising money for Variety, the children’s charity that specialises in empowering children who are sick, disadvantaged or who have special needs.

Nev achieves this by raising money to take part in the annual Victoria Bash, a point-to-point tour where teams take cars over 30 years old and drive them through Outback Australia, visiting towns and schools and raising awareness for disadvantaged children.

“The most enjoyable thing is when you go to a school, especially a disadvantaged school to give out things. You see the faces of these kids getting these gifts, how they love seeing all the cars,” said Nev.

As well as getting away from the daily grind to do something a little bit different for a good cause, participants in “The Bash” are encouraged to style their cars, and themselves, in a fun theme. Nev is on his third Mercedes-Benz bash car.

For his first car, Nev and his team went as The Wombat Boys, which had a giant wombat on a skateboard on the roof of his car, but these days Nev can be seen bashing as Popeye in his bright green “Spinachmobile”.

“Every four years The Bash has a big get together of all the Bashes from the other states,” Nev said. “The last one they had was in Sydney. To see some 500 cars all in the showgrounds in Sydney, all dressed up is fantastic, really.

In his early 20s, Nev spent six months travelling around Australia in an old Land Rover, so he is no stranger to adventurous road trips, he really is just bashing for the chil-dren but each year he has to raise a minimum amount of money, last year he had to raise a minimum of $8000.

“In 10 years I have probably raised $120,000. There is always a minimum amount but I try to raise a bit more if I can. The last three years we have got up to $15,000,” said Nev, who explains how he raises all this money.

“A lot of people raise more who use their franchise businesses to generate donations. But we don’t do too bad considering we just do tin rattles and go down the market selling mandalas and have sausage sizzles at the IGA. We also sell names on the car and ask businesses for $400 donation to have their name on the car.”

Nev really does give it all for the bash. Using his screen printing skills he produces stickers for Variety as well as bash branded stubby holders that are given out to the competitors on the bash.

Now 75 and retired, Nev is looking to relaxing a little but is still fully committed to the bash. He is down at the Warrandyte market every month and occasionally outside the IGA, so look out for the big green Spinachmobile and say hello to Nev (who may or may not be in his Popeye outfit) and buy a mandala or a sausage and help him continue to raise vital funds for Variety.

“I can concentrate more on Variety now, and I will keep doing it until I can’t cope anymore.”