The 2018 local Australia Day Citizen of the Year Awards were announced at a Mayoral Reception at City Hall yesterday. The awards will be presented at the City of Mount Gambier Australia Day Breakfast celebration to be held at the Railway Lands on Friday 26 January 2018.
“The awards recognise individuals and organisations that have made a noteworthy contribution during the current year, and/or given outstanding service over a number of years, to a local community over and above normal employment duties,” City of Mount Gambier Mayor Andrew Lee said.
The Citizen of the Year will be awarded to local residents Lois Bayre and Peter Martin respectively.
Lois has hosted Mount Gambier’s Biggest Morning Tea since 1999, raising more than $100,000 for Cancer Council SA throughout the past 19 years.
“I used to donate to the anti-cancer foundation each year as I lost my Mum to cancer. One day they sent me a newsletter asking for people to host Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea,” Lois said.
“So, I invited 26 people to my house for morning tea and then decided to move it to St Paul’s Hall and 120 people turned up and we raised $920.”
From there, Lois’ events continued to grow each year, with assistance from a band of about 12 dedicated volunteers and with the support of generous local businesses.
“We get about 300 people attending now. I think we might need to host the event at the Adelaide Oval next,” she joked.
“I couldn’t hold this event if I didn’t have the support of local businesses who donate towards this event and I’m so grateful for my volunteers,” she said.
Retired diesel mechanic Peter Martin was nominated for the Citizen of the Year award for his community spirit, giving nature and tireless efforts to help others within the community.
He provides assistance to those in need with errands and transport, helps people move houses, picks up litter on the streets while on daily walks and always smiles and initiates conversation with those who walk past him.
“I’m from a family of 10, so I’ve always thought it’s important to chip in and help others where you can. If everyone does a little bit, everyone is happier,” Peter said.
Peter is considered a role model for the community and is willing to drop anything to help someone else and without asking for anything in return.
“I enjoy helping others, you’ve got to have a positive mindset and try and be happy and not let the world get to you. There’s no use dying sad,” he said.
Young Citizen of the Year will be awarded to Laura Small. The 24 year old musician has been living in Mount Gambier for four years after relocating from her family home in Port Macquarie for the purpose of tertiary study. She has completed a Bachelor of Jazz Composition and is currently studying a Masters of Teaching through the University of South Australia.
Laura gives her time freely to many community events including the Christmas Parade, Carols by Candlelight, Blue Lake Fun Run, Mayfair Singers, Concert Band and City Band.
“I was lucky to be well supported with my music, it’s my passion in life and my contribution is a pay it forward thing as music is a gift that I can share,” Laura said.
She willingly shares her expertise to inspire and teach others to improve their musical skills within the community.
“There’s so many people out there who have talent and haven’t had a chance to try an instrument. I volunteered at North Gambier Primary School this past year and it’s particularly rewarding to see these students excelling, boosting their skills and confidence.”
The Community Event of the Year will be awarded to the Mount Gambier History Group for its work on the Fidler & Webb Exhibition held at the Main Corner in October 2017.
Committee members Aileen Clarke and Margaret Brown researched and collected material for the exhibition over a two year period. Their tireless research and dedication resulted in a community event showcasing the former department store’s 150 year history.
“It’s a real honour and recognition of all the hard work and the thousands of hours that everyone within the group gave to make sure the exhibition was a success. I think it has been one of the biggest and best events we’ve put on,” Aileen said.
“The opening night alone attracted more than 250 people and over 1000 others visited during the 13 day exhibition, including many former employees, customers and ancestors of the Fidler and Webb family.”
The awards provide a key focus for Mount Gambier’s 2018 Australia Day celebrations.
“We hope the entire community will join us at the Railway Lands at 7:30am for breakfast and entertainment including performances from Gentleman prefer Blondes, North Gambier Primary School students, Jason and Christy Wallace and Phoenix Music Studio. The awards presentation will then begin at 9:15am,” Mayor Lee said.