The countdown is on as Mr VicBears 2018 Freddy Raftellis comes to the end of his reign as VicBears supremo. The Buzz caught up with him as he reflected on his 12 months in the spotlight. He chose the pizza photo as one of his favourites for the year.

Has it been a fun year, being Mr VicBears?
It’s been great! I’ve loved every moment of it!

Was it harder/easier than you thought it would be?
I knew what I was getting into and I knew what I wanted to do with the title. It has been hard but I knew that would be the case.

The biggest challenge?
I’ve learnt no matter what you do, how genuine you are and how much you work your ass off to try and do good for the community there will always be people that have opinions about what you are doing wrong. I found this the biggest challenge but I’ve learnt to focus on the positive and knowing I’m making a difference and not on the negativity of others.

What was your biggest achievement?
My main goal for this year was to get my buddy program for newly diagnosed people living with HIV in rural and regional areas up and running and even tho it’s still in the pipe works it’s looking like it’s going to go ahead.

Are you a better Bear because of it?
Yes, I think it’s made me a much more confident bear.

How will 2019 be different?
Less beer! Apart from that I don’t think much will change. I will continue to volunteer with prep access now and continue to work on my buddy program even after it’s up and running.

Final word from Freddy: I want to thank the VicBears committee. I’ve gotten to see first hand how hard they all work for us to have some great events. They are an amazing bunch of guys! My year would not of been such a success without them supporting me and giving me guidance when I’ve needed it.
Also a big Thankyou to the Laird and also the community.
I hope I’ve made you all proud!

 Freddy Raftellis will had over to the 2019 Mr VicBears winner at The Laird on January 26.