THE Latrobe Valley Big Blokes BBQ for 2024 was held last Friday in Morwell’s revamped Kernot Hall.

The fundraiser attracted another bumper crowd, welcoming blokes from across the region for another festive day to raise money for The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).

More than $100,000 was raised.

This year’s BBQ was especially poignant, held in tribute to the late Bruce Ellen.

Remembering our great mate: Latrobe Valley Big Blokes BBQ committee with a portrait of the late Bruce Ellen. Mr Ellen was a key figure in organising previous BBQ events, helping to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. Photograph: Blake Metcalf-Holt

Mr Ellen put in a power of work to previous BBQ’s, serving as chair of the Latrobe Valley Big Blokes BBQ committee for many years.

Mr Ellen, who was also general manager of the Latrobe Valley Express, passed away in March following his own battle with Prostate Cancer.

His legacy was commemorated last Friday, with a photo tribute featuring prominently on stage, and the BBQ committee all wearing black armbands in a show of respect.

Current committee chair, Ian Nethercote and committee member, Barry Whitehead led the tributes, while Bruce’s brother, Tim and son, Nick were welcomed on stage and presented with a memorial of the late committee spearhead.

The event welcomed former Collingwood players Dane Swan and Dale Thomas, along with Norm Smith Medallist, David Rhys-Jones as guest speakers, while comedian Tom Siegert kept the laughs coming as MC.

Regale: Former Collingwood and Carlton player Dale Thomas was one of three guest speakers. Photograph: Blake Metcalf-Holt

Accompanying the indelible food, the entertainment of the special guest speakers separated auctions, raffles, and activities for tables to win cash and prizes throughout the day.

The Churchill Lions Club was also on deck, offering additional support and clean up across the day.

One in seven Australian men will develop Prostate Cancer in their life, while in the Gippsland and Latrobe region, there is a 30 per cent higher mortality rate compared to other areas of Victoria.

Alongside the PCFA, a small committee of volunteers, some of whom personally are affected by this disease, plan and run Big Blokes barbecues across the state.

Leaders: Bob Yeates, chairman of East Gippsland’s Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch with Gavan Budge, Peter Camera and Alfi Prestipino of Latrobe’s Biggest Ever Blokes BBQ committee. Photograph: Blake Metcalf-Holt

The Latrobe Valley committee has funded a number of services including research projects through Monash University Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, local awareness campaigns, research projects and financial assistance to aid the purchase of specialist equipment in local hospitals.

Since its inception in 2013, the Latrobe Valley Big Bloke’s BBQ has surpassed a total of $1 million, that milestone reached at the weekend.