Portaro, 79, hails from the Calabrian town of Dasà, while his wife comes from Naso, a town near Capo d’Orlando, on the island of Sicily.

On the day, the president presented all of the members of the association’s new committee and asked everyone to be standing and gather in a moment of prayer and silence to honour their friends and colleagues who passed away last year, in particular, the former secretary, Antonietta Canzano.

Portaro invited special guest Frank Di Blasi, president of the Associazione dei Circoli Pensionati Italiani del Victoria (CO.AS.IT.) and honorary member of the association, to give a speech.

Di Blasi spoke of how the association’s Hawaiian-themed Carnevale party, held on February 16, 2020, was the first opportunity for members to meet again after the summer holidays, but also the last before Victoria went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The association’s first event since the lockdown marked the end of a year of physical and mental suffering for many people.

Though many restrictions have since been lifted, the importance of remaining cautious was reiterated in order to continue to safeguard the health of community members, particularly the elderly and vulnerable.

Members were urged to continue to comply with the restrictions still in place, practise social distancing and take care of those who need assistance, as well as being vaccinated when possible, “because it represents the only way out of the emergency”.

The event was a jovial occasion for all 120 members of the association and kicked off the 2021 social calendar under the new committee.

The sumptuous lunch and melodious beats of the musical duo, Paolo Pergolese and Joe La Greca, allowed the members to enjoy themselves, forget about the challenges of the past year and look forward to what the future holds.