2 May 2023

Cooma recognises volunteer's selfless service with Anzac of the Year honour

| Gail Eastaway
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man at memorial

Cooma’s Citizen of the Year and Anzac of the Year, John Britton. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

Volunteering runs deep in some families.

While there is a common complaint about a lack of volunteers generally these days, there are people who certainly go above and beyond in their efforts to assist others in their community.

In the case of Cooma’s John Britton, volunteering goes way back to his childhood in an Australia heavily involved in World War II.

John and his family packed “Parcels for Britain” and even knitted socks and scarves to be despatched to service personnel in war zones.

At the time, John had uncles who were fighting in various campaigns, including Tobruk and in Europe.

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Luckily, they all survived the war and returned home, but John’s experience eventually led to his becoming involved with Legacy, continuing to honour the “promise” to care for the wives and families of ex-service personnel after the war.

John completed national service from 1958 to 1960, in Puckapunyal in Victoria and in Singleton, NSW, and continued with the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) for some time thereafter.

He now has a son in the RAAF and a grandson in the RAN.

John took on an apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner after leaving high school in 1955.

In 1961, he completed his Clerk of Works Certificate and then joined Architon Construction in Sydney.

In 1962, he qualified as a building estimator from the Australian Institute of Construction Engineers, where he was the secretary for four years and editor of its magazine, Estimator.

He moved to Cooma in 1977, working with a building company, and was involved in various buildings in Cooma and its surrounds, including the Currawarna Aged Care facility in Bombala.

He joined Cooma Apex Club to help with community works and to meet the locals.

He worked as the head building teacher at Cooma TAFE and while there was involved in producing the tile and concrete panels for the Time Walk display in Cooma’s Centennial Park.

In 2007, he was invited to be an adjudicator for the Lions Youth of the Year Program, after which he joined the club and later became editor of the Lions Bulletin.

He served as president of the Cooma Lions Club in 2011.

John is heavily involved in Cooma Lions’ works projects, where his building skills and experience have been invaluable in creating facilities enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

These projects have included the Southern Cloud Memorial, Lambie Gorge Pathway, facilities in Norris Park and the varied attractions and equipment in Lions Park in Yallakool Road, Cooma.

John’s tenacity in dealing with the red tape often associated with these projects has led to his being nicknamed “The Pest” of the Lions club.

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While busy with the Lions club, John has also been a busy member of the Cooma-Bombala Legacy Group since 2012, where he has again continued to honour the “promise”, in recognition of the sacrifice made by Australian service and ex-service personnel.

In January this year, John’s service to the Cooma community was recognised when he received the Cooma Citizen of the Year award at the local Australia Day celebrations.

This recognition was extended on Anzac Day, when he was also named the recipient of the 2023 Anzac of the Year, an award honouring community service, by the Cooma RSL Sub-branch.

John was humbled but delighted to receive his awards this year.

He shows no signs of slowing down his contributions to the community anytime soon.

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