How the lower South West celebrated Australia Day

Ben LoughranManjimup-Bridgetown Times
The citizen of the year award winners in the Manjimup Shire.
Camera IconThe citizen of the year award winners in the Manjimup Shire. Credit: Shire of Manjimup

New citizens were welcomed and unsung heroes were praised as hundreds turned out to celebrate Australia Day across the lower South West last week.

In the Manjimup Shire, dozens of people braved the rain to travel to Walpole and mark the day which also included a surprise visit from Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

Manjimup resident Brad Wren was one of two citizen of the year award recipients for his work with the Yanmah volunteer fire fighting service.

Mr Wren said the volunteers he works with are as much deserving of the award as he was and it was their hard work which allowed him to do the work he does.

“I really have a good group of volunteers at the Yanmah volunteer fire and rescue service, if you have got good people behind you they make you look good too,” he said.

The other joint winner of the citizen of the year gong was Northcliffe’s Julie Bettink who was nominated for her work as president of Crowea retirement village.

Ms Bettink said she was thankful for the award and given volunteering was commonplace in Northcliffe it helped contribute to the community spirit in the town.

“Northcliffe has a lot of volunteers across lots of activities and groups, it is also a great way to get into the community and it is usually very enjoyable,” she said.

“I am only the president, (of the Crowea Village committee) everybody puts in work, it is always a joint effort like all the committees I am on.”

The winner of the community group prize was Manjimup’s famous Cherry Harmony Festival which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

Committee president Pam Bodsworth said the reason the festival had been able to run for so long was because of not only the dedication of the committee but also the overwhelming support from the community.

“Without the committee I cannot do what I do and without the community we can’t put the Cherry Harmony festival on,” she said.

“The committee can drive it all but the people are also very supportive of what we put on every year.”

Warren Catchment Council’s executive officer Kathy Dawson was the winner of the senior citizen of the year award for her work in the emerging science of regenerative agriculture.

Ms Dawson said the farmers who were also pioneering this science were as much to be praised as she and the catchment council were for the advancements made in the horticulture field.

“I want to thank those farmers who are the innovators, who are paving the ground, who are prepared to try something new and who are prepared to share their knowledge and not just keep it to themselves,” she said.

“That is really what community is about, helping other people learn what you know so they could benefit”.

The youth citizen of the year for Manjimup was Walpole resident Trinity Brickhill.

Shire president Paul Omodei said the day had “a really good feeling” and gave special mention to the 2021 Manjimup citizen of the year Deanne Ventris for her speech which celebrated the area and its people.

“I though Deanne’s speech was amazing, I have heard a lot of speeches in my time and I thought it was really quite outstanding,” he said.

Cr Omodei said regardless of the winners from the various citizen of the year categories, he felt everyone was deserving of recognition for the work they do in and around the district.

“Everybody made a contribution, I thought everybody was deserving and it really goes to show how strong our community is,” he said.

In Bridgetown the winners for the citizen of the year awards included Michael Fletcher as the citizen of the year, Eric Wheatley as senior community citizen of the year, Alicia Gluck as the young community citizen of the year and the Bridgetown Friendship Club as the active community citizenship award winner.

In Boyup Brook the winners for the Shire’s awards included young achiever of the year Harris Thompson, Robin White as the sports person of the year, Susan Wallace as the Kevin Henderson Memorial award and Yvonne Dent as Boyup Brook Citizen of the Year.

The ‘Av a G’day in Walpole event featured live music, food and art stalls, eight new citizens joining the community and some of the district’s most dedicated volunteers receiving recognition for their commitment to the shire.

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