A LARGE crowd assembled in the Leongatha Memorial Hall last Wednesday evening for South Gippsland Shire Council’s 2013 Australia Day Awards Announcement Ceremony.
Council’s Community Strengthening Manager, Ned Dennis, was master of ceremonies. From a stage decorated with red, white and blue balloons and bunting, in front of a backdrop of an enormous Australian flag, he welcomed everyone. Interspersed with the announcements of the award winners, entertainment was provided by Meeniyan choral group ‘Serenity’ and talented young Nyora singer Madeline Lancey, one of the recipients of a Youth Community Contribution Award.
The presentation of the awards provided the highlights of the evening.
YOUTH COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION AWARDS
Council’s Community Strengthening Support Officer, Sophie Dixon, presented the Youth Community Contribution Awards, which are non-competitive awards in the form of certificates presented to young people nominated for their contribution to the community. Ned Dennis took the opportunity to promote Youth Council, which is in need of new members. “Youth Council is a wonderful opportunity for young people to develop their leadership and communication skills, advise Council on youth issues, have some fun and develop networks that will support them as they move forward in the next phase of their lives,” he said. “The Youth Council is currently looking for new members, so if you are between 14 and 25 and like a challenge, chat to Sophie at the end of this ceremony or call her at Council to find out more.”
Youth Community Contribution Awards were presented to: Tom Horton,15, of Korumburra; Shantal Kelly, 16, of Mirboo North; Madeline Lancey, 16, of Nyora; Tamara Loughridge, 15, Poowong; Stewart McKenzie, 15, Korumburra; Abbey McNally, 16, Poowong; Max Rounds, 18, Leongatha; Ben Thomas, 17, Meeniyan; Ashley Tilling, 15, Poowong; and Emily Wilson, 18, Meeniyan.
SHIRE COMMUNITY EVENT OF THE YEAR
The MC noted that there are several events which are council-run and therefore not eligible for awards but are worthy of mention all the same, such as the Coal Creek family events. “Thousands of children and their parents have delighted in the Teddy Bears’ Picnic, the Giant Easter Egg Hunt, the Halloween celebration which attracted an astounding 5000 participants last October, Pirates Day and Christmas Carols. The Park is also home to several community groups, engages local school children in projects, has hosted conferences, festivals and a series of art exhibitions, and now boasts a monthly Farmers’ market. These events are labour intensive to stage, but have reignited interest and a marked increase in visitation to this iconic South Gippsland attraction. If you haven’t been for a good while, take advantage of the summer weather and treat yourselves!”
Mr Dennis also urged people to attend the forthcoming Music for the People Concert to be held at Mossvale Park on Sunday 24 February.
“All these events plus those that have been nominated this year add richness to the lifestyle of residents and draw visitors to our region, all good for the local economy,” he said.
Mr Paul Evans, representing last year’s recipient of the Community Event of the Year award, ‘Mirboo North Arty Gras – Art Show,’ presented representatives of this year’s nominees with certificates. Nominations were received for:
- Australia Day Country Style at Poowong;
- Leongatha Daffodil Festival;
- Centenary of Leongatha State Secondary Education;
- South Gippsland Golf Classic;
- Stony Creek Rodeo.
The mayor, Cr Kieran Kennedy, then announced the winner – the Centenary of Leongatha State Secondary Education.
The centenary celebrations saw around 4000 guests assembling on a memorable weekend last April – a nostalgic blend of ex-students of the former Leongatha Technical and Agricultural High Schools, and their current incarnation, the Leongatha Secondary College. This outstanding event not only created great joy over the weekend and great trade for local businesses, it spawned valuable legacies for future generations, through the establishment of the Heritage Precinct, and the production of the Centenary book which involved three years of intensive research. Proceeds from the award-winning book will be spent on student amenities. The 1972 time capsule was opened and then reburied for a further 25 years, and a 100-year-old plough donated by the Haw family in 1984 was resited outside Mesley Hall.
SHIRE CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
The nominees for South Gippsland Citizen of the Year included:
Meryl Agars of Toora North; Ethel Hanks of Meeniyan; Helen Pearce of Korumburra; Irene Spooner of Toora; Margaret Stokes of Leongatha; Trevor White of Leongatha; and Aaron Wilson of Mirboo North.
2012 Citizen of the Year Greig Barry presented the nominees with certificates and the mayor then announced this year’s winner as Aaron Wilson.
Aaron Wilson manages family, a fulltime job and a voluntary role as Primary Duty Officer for the SES. He was a Charter member of the Mirboo North Lions Club when it started in 2005, and is currently in his third term of office as President. At the Mirboo North Junior Football Club he has been a runner and trainer for over six years and a great support to the coaches. Aaron also ran the Auskick program which encourages children to play football, and most of these have gone on to join the club. He also volunteers with the CFA, runs the Food Relief Program at the Mirboo North Christian Centre, and does voluntary maintenance work at the Scout Hall and the local swimming pool.