Australia Day took on special meaning for a handful of citizens from the Hilltops region who were recognised for their individual contributions to the community.
Hilltops – which takes in the towns of Young, Harden-Murrumburrah and Boorowa – held numerous ceremonies throughout the day, all of them with their special touch of Australia.
Young’s mayor Brian Ingram welcomed the hundred or so guests, and conductor and composer George Ellis – Australia Day Ambassador – presented the awards.
Hilltops Meats was recognised for its ability to persist through tough market conditions and ensure a $45 million rebuild of the former Burrangong Abattoirs, which now employs 125 workers.
Young’s 2020 Junior Citizen of the Year award went to Ellie Burstal for her work in raising awareness of rural mental health through the 2018-2019 Naked Farmer calendars.
Jenny Howell took out the town’s 2020 Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of her volunteer work for Young Food Hall, Meals on Wheels and the popular combined churches annual Christmas lunch.
“I’m just so grateful that at my age I can do something to contribute to this community because there are so many good people out there doing so much more than I’m doing,” Ms Howell said.
In the village of Wombat, the festivities included a tractor pull and parade, complete with antique tractors, fire trucks, and kids on bikes and the backs of trucks. The centrepiece celebrations were held at shady Waganbah Oval where Elaine Daley was announced as Wombat’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.
Elaine’s work with Wombat Public School students and the local Rural Fire Service were highlighted as she was presented with her plaque by Australia Day Ambassador Pierre Issa, founder of Pepe Saya Butter Company.
Claire McRae, Wombat’s 2020 Junior Citizen of the Year, was honoured for her efforts in supporting many community events held in the village.
It was a doubleheader turnout for the young Sportsperson of the Year award with Abbey Hall recognised for her swimming achievements and Cody Hall for his prowess and sportsmanship in the boxing ring.
Over in Harden Murrumburrah, Pierre Issa announced Linda Barry as 2020 Citizen of the Year while Kai Steel was honoured with the 2020 Community Involvement in Sport award. Marie Fogg was recognised with the Special Community Award and Bob Randall was declared the 2020 Senior Citizen of the Year.
Rising sports star Grace Kemp was awarded Junior Citizen of the Year and Whichcraft, one of the town’s showpiece coffee shops, took out the Town Care award.
Meanwhile in Boorowa, with entertainer Robina Beard as ambassador, local deacon Patrick Whale was presented with the Lions/Apex Citizen of the Year award. Four local people – Sina Banks, Jack Ryan, Chris Corcoran and Sharon Meer – were recipients of community awards, and Bede Morrissey was presented with the Len and Joan Oxley award.