John James Smollen (Toy Man) Print Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown
A plaque commemorates John James Smollen founder of the Peninsula Toy Run in 2000.

John Smollen's enlarged heart may have caused his fatal heart attack, but it was his big heart that touched the community. The Pearcedale man passed away on November 30, only a week before what would have been his 13th Peninsula Toy Run. The 78-year-old founded the charity motorbike ride after more than 20 years as a member of Ulysses motorcycle club.

His son, David Smollen, 51, rode in his father's honour on December 7 alongside a police escort, the first time one had been provided for the run. "He was a very great man. A very caring, giving man, he never asked for anything, never wanted anyone else to do anything for him. He was very humble," he said.

The father of four worked as a scrap metal dealer before retiring at 50, for the next 28 years he worked as a CFA volunteer and helped his wife Maureen organise the Pearcedale ANZAC day ceremonies and memorial. When he died the couple was just two years off their 60th wedding anniversary.

"He volunteered for anything basically, he was always a giving guy," David said. "He gave everything he could back to the community." His proud son also said his dad was renowned for delivering bread and vegetables that had been thrown out by supermarkets for friend's cattle or - if it was good enough - for friends' dinner.

Frankston biker Phil Matthews, who takes over from Mr Smollen as organiser for the toy run, said the event had been Mr Smollen's "pride and joy". " You always had the Melbourne toy run, but nothing they collect gets distributed past Chelsea and John saw a need for something on the peninsula where he lives, so he started his own toy run," Mr Matthews said. He said there are usually about 450 riders, but more turned up this year to commemorate it's founder. "The actual cash we raise is roughly $4000 on the day," Mr Matthews said. "But it's raised from several sources. We sell toy run badges, we run raffles, plus we get a lot of toys. "He was such a tremendous bloke, John, you wouldn't find a nicer person."

About 340 people packed into the Peninsula City Church yesterday for Mr Smollen's funeral. Frankston City Council mayor Darrel Taylor described Mr Smollen as "iconic."  "John was an iconic local who did so much for the Peninsula Toy Run and the wider community over many years," Mr Taylor said."He will be sadly missed by his family and friends."

David Smollen said for everyone who knew his dad, his door was always open, they could stay anytime, get a feed, it was never a problem. It's a hard thing to find that in a lot of people these days."
Frankston Standard Leader, 10 December 2013.




Address:Nepean Highway, Frankston Waterfront (off Pier Promenade), Frankston, 3199
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.147599
Long: 145.115716
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People


Front Inscription
John James Smollen
30 March 1935 - 30 November 2013
Founder of Peninsula Toy Run 2000

John saw a need and made it happen.
He was man who never asked for anything
but gave all to the needy in the Community.

The Peninsula`s Father Christmas (Toy Man) will never be forgotten

Frankston City

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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