Welcome to Patchell Lane, which is named after Bruce Patchell OAM.
Affectionately known as ‘Mr Dandenong’, Bruce was an extraordinary civic leader. He and his wife Chris played a defining role in Dandenong’s transformation from a market town to a thriving industrial centre in the mid-20th century. He lived most of his life in the vicinity of Pultney Street.
Bruce was born in 1920 in Tatura, northern Victoria, and arrived in Dandenong in 1936. After training as a hairdresser’s apprentice during the 1930s Depression he and Chris opened a series of hairdressing salons in Dandenong in the 1950s.
Bruce was passionate about advancing Dandenong and had many civic roles. He joined the Dandenong Chamber of Commerce in 1951, where he served for 48 years, and the Dandenong Rotary Club in 1963, where he served for 37 years.
He and Chris were also involved in the Dandenong Agricultural Society, Dandenong Hospital, Dandenong Football Club, Red Cross, the Presbyterian/Uniting Church, the RSL, the Dandenong Club and the Carols by Candlelight Christmas celebrations.
Bruce became the first life member of the Dandenong Chamber of Commerce and received the Paul Harris Fellowship for his service to the Dandenong Rotary Club. In honour of his achievements, he was named a ‘City of Greater Dandenong Living Treasure’ in 1999.
“I did it because my interests are Dandenong – business, people, and anything that can better Dandenong – I want to be in it”− Bruce Patchell.
In 1940, aged 20, Bruce Patchell volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force.
After spending five years in the 52nd Infantry Battalion and the 5th Machine Gun Battalion in northern Australia and the Torres Strait Islands, he joined the Dandenong RSL in 1947. He was Chairman of the 52nd Battalion Reunion for more than 20 years, helping to raise funds and reunite service personnel.
Bruce shaped how Dandenong commemorated its war veterans. His most notable achievement was in the 1990s, when he became chairperson of the community committee that relocated the cenotaph war memorial from outside the Dandenong Town Hall, where it had stood since the end of World War I.
Seeing an opportunity to enhance ‘the little old memorial’ Bruce raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the striking ‘Pillars of Freedom’ memorial, which was officially opened at its new location in the McCrae Street Mall in 1995 and that has an ongoing commemorative role for the people of Dandenong today. He also ensured that the WW1 and WWII Honour Board was relocated to the foyer of the Drum Theatre during the redevelopment of the Town Hall in 2006.
After decades of service, Bruce was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for Service by the National Executive of the RSL in 1996 and received the Order of Australia Medal in 2007 for his services to the community.
“It’s easy to be a receiver in life. But winners are those who give something back to community” − Bruce Patchell.