2020 Australia Day awardees announced
for the MT Gambier City Council
2020 Citizen of the Year, Lorenza McMahon.
Community minded citizens and a growing local event will be recognised for their achievements at the 2020 City of Mount Gambier Australia Day Breakfast and Awards Ceremony to be held at the Cave Garden on Sunday 26 January.
“The Australia Day awards recognise individuals and organisations who have made a noteworthy contribution during the past year, and/or given outstanding service over a number of years, to our local community beyond normal employment duties,” City of Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin OAM said.
Young Citizen of the Year will be awarded to 18 year old Caitlin McMahon.
Caitlin has served the community through five years of volunteering with the Sunset Community Kitchen and 18 months as a St John Limestone Coast member serving as an event medic, along with commitment to various local sporting clubs and school based leadership roles.
Caitlin has an extensive resume attesting to her natural leadership in several spheres within the community and her quality contribution to humanity across multiple community organisations.
- - Nominator Ross Parkinson OAM
Caitlin was recognised for her considerable contributions in October 2019 when she was invited to Government House and presented an Order of Australia Association SA Branch Student Citizenship Award by the Governor of South Australia, the Honourable Hieu Van Le.
The Young Citizen of the Year also dedicates her time to volunteering at the Mount Gambier Hospital where she enjoys visiting patients to offer them company and someone to talk to.
“During my visits at the hospital I am able to spend time with people from all walks of life and hope to provide some company and comfort. It is such a rewarding and humbling experience,” Caitlin said.
Caitlin also served the community through her role as school captain. In this role she assisted with the ‘Do it for Dolly Day’ held in May 2019 and coordinated initiatives to facilitate a collaboration between Grant High School and the recently founded local organisation ‘Spare Ya Change 4 Kids’.
Having recently graduated from high school Caitlin hopes to commence tertiary studies this year to pursue a career in medicine.
“I absolutely love helping people and hope to get into medicine so my involvement with St John has been invaluable in providing me with firsthand experience in the field,” Caitlin said.
Despite a long list of achievements to her name and a demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of others Caitlin remains humble about the selfless work she and her family undertake.
“My Mum has been a big influence, we’ve always volunteered in various groups from a young age and as a family are passionate about helping our community.”
“I am very honoured to be recognised as the Young Citizen of the Year, I did not expect it - when you volunteer you don’t expect anything in return it’s just about giving back to the community that helped raise you, so to be a recipient of an award like this is incredible.
Citizen of the Year will be awarded to dedicated humanitarian Lorenza McMahon.
Lorenza is the mother of 2020 Young Citizen of the Year, Caitlin and 2019 Young Citizen of the Year, Joseph.
Dedicating many hours each week to St John and the Sunset Community Kitchen, Lorenza’s selfless nature is demonstrated by a long list of service to her community over many years.
Lorenza is the quintessential quiet Australian achiever whose thoughtful good deeds would fill chapters in a book if fully documented.
- - Nominator Ross Parkinson OAM
“She is a fabulous citizen of our city and her humanity speaks volumes of this caring and thoughtful soul.”
The desire to help others started at an early age for Lorenza, learning from her parents the spirit of selflessness and giving back to the community.
“I remember Mum used to talk about Grandma who helped out in the community and the attitude was ‘you just help people, that’s what you do’ so we just grew up doing the same and have bought our children up this way,” Mrs McMahon said.
Joining St John in 2013, Lorenza has completed a Certificate Three in Basic Health and six years later continues to volunteer as an event medic and teaches junior cadets.
“St John is a great organisation and provides us all with amazing opportunities and skill development.”
“The organisation has provided great benefits to our children and if we don’t volunteer as adults and assist with training the cadets these children won’t have the same opportunity.”
Lorenza’s involvement with the Sunset Community Kitchen began in 2009 when a committee was first established to get the concept off the ground. More than 10 years later her contribution to this community initiative continues.
While admitting she does not give much thought to the number of hours she volunteers each week, Lorenza serves as a team leader preparing and serving meals at the Sunset Community Kitchen on Monday and Wednesday evenings and collects food donations from local businesses each week.
“I don’t really think about how many hours I spend volunteering each week, I am just pleased we are able to give something to people that don’t have very much,” Mrs McMahon said.
“People are doing it tough so it’s good to know you can provide some relief to these families and know that they are getting at least two nutritious meals a week.”
With previous experience as a Lifeline counsellor and SES volunteer, Lorenza and her family also support Red Cross and UNICEF and have been heavily involved in a number of local sporting clubs through both her own involvement and that of her children and husband.
“If you don’tdo it, the clubs don’t survive and if you just do a little bit it helps to keep the clubs going, you just want the best for that group and what it does for the community.”
While dedicating much of her adult life to volunteering in Mount Gambier and juggling family life with part-time employment, Lorenza is unassuming about her contributions and attributes the local community spirit to the adage ‘many hands make light work’.
“Mount Gambier is such an amazing community with great generosity - if there wasn’t this volunteer base we wouldn’t have the sporting clubs and community organisations that we do - it’s marvellous to see so many people giving back.”
Senior Citizen of the Year will be awarded to long serving Lioness Janet Bellinger.
Janet will celebrate 20 years as a Lioness in March this year and was recently awarded the James D Richardson Honour Award, one of the highest accolades presented to Lions and Lioness members in Australia.
“It’s a very prestigious award, not everyone gets one so it’s quite special and shows appreciation for the work I have done over the time I have been working with Lionesses,” Mrs Bellinger said.
“You just do things, and it rolls on from one thing to another but it’s a very special award and as the club members said it was the first time I was lost for words,” Mrs Bellinger said.
Throughout her almost 20 years of service, Janet has made significant contribution to the Lioness Club and the community and has held a number of roles in that time.
Janet has served the club twice as President and has held roles as Vice President, Treasurer and Director of Finance and Membership, Director of Program and Social, Director of Civic and Welfare, Director of Fundraising, Youth Project and Tail Twister.
- - Nominator and fellow Lioness Beryl Mahoney
Through the Lioness Club Janet also assists with the Library Books in Home program, Sunset Community Kitchen and Foodbank and has volunteered her time and expertise to assist in the planning and running of many community events. Janet also served on the Lions District Cabinet for four years as a Lioness Liason.
“I enjoy the company of the other ladies, we work together, it’s a really fun group to be with and I really enjoy the volunteer work and giving back,” Mrs Bellinger said.
Born in Millicent and with a love of all things Scottish, Janet has volunteered her time to a number of causes around the Limestone Coast through pipebands, highland dancing and debutant balls.
“I have been playing in pipebands for 60 years having started with the Millicent Caledonian Pipe Band at the age of 15 and I now volunteer my time tutoring the Penola Pipe Band where I am a life member,” Mrs Bellinger said.
“I am also a life member of the Millicent Caledonian Society where I was the first lady chief in Australia - this was quite a big deal in 1984 which ironically was dubbed the year of the woman.”
Janet’s volunteer work also extends to the arts where she was a member of the South East Arts Country Council in the 1970’s.
“My mother was a good artist and so I was naturally drawn to the influence and appreciation of art and whilst I frequently visit the Riddoch Art Gallery, I just don’t have the time to take part these days.”
Having commenced volunteer work at the age of 14 Janet was humbled to be recognised.
“When I got the phone call to say I was going to receive this award I said ‘I think I better sit down’ - I never thought anything like that would happen to me, it was a lovely surprise.”
“Volunteering brings a feeling of wellbeing, it’s just something I can do and I enjoy doing it and the people I do it with.”
“There is a lot of work that goes into but it brings a great deal of satisfaction, you forget you did all that, as the years pass you just do it.”
The 2020 Community Event of the Year will be awarded to Empak Homes BrickGambier.
Motivated by similar events on a larger scale around Australian cities and across Europe, LEGO fans Emma Robinson, Alison Boomsma and Hannah Robinson along with a small committee created the BrickGambier event in 2017.
“BrickGambier was inspired by the global movement of adult fans of LEGO and Emma has attended shows all over Australia and Europe including BrickVention in Melbourne which is Australia’s biggest LEGO fan event with 300 exhibitors,” Ms Boomsma said.
“The aim of the event is quite simple - to share our love of LEGO and get other people together to enjoy it with us.”
The two-day event held over the October long weekend brings together LEGO fans from around Australia to showcase their LEGO exhibits for the community to view.
The event has been increasing in popularity since its inception with both attendance and exhibitor numbers growing rapidly.
“Our first event attracted attendance numbers of approximately 500 and has grown to 1500 in 2018 and more than 2200 in 2019,” Mrs Robinson said.
The organising committee attributed the success of the 2019 event in part to the Channel 9 TV show LEGO Masters that first aired in Australia in April 2019.
“Having three LEGO Masters contestants Kale, Jordan and Miller at our event helped draw a crowd and kids and adults were star struck getting autographs and taking photos which added to the great atmosphere,” Mrs Robinson said.
“Another great thing about the Mount Gambier event is everyone coming together from all over Australia, especially because we are a central meeting point for both Adelaide and Melbourne exhibitors,” Hannah Robinson said.
“Our event has a more relaxed vibe and is not as chaotic and intense as some of the larger city based events.”
“A lot of families don’t have the opportunity to travel for the big city events so this is one way we can bring those exhibitors to us and provide the community with an opportunity to have a similar experience for a much smaller entry price.”
The event was the catalyst for Limestone Coast LEGO User Group formed in March 2018 that meets monthly and has a social media and web presence.
“When you start talking to people you realise how many people in the Limestone Coast are as ‘nutty’ about LEGO as we are so we decided it was an ideal time to get a local LEGO user group up and running,” Mrs Robinson said.
Preparations are already underway for this October’s event with the committee hoping to build on particular aspects of previous events.
“It is really pleasing to hear so many people wanting to come back again and we are looking to expand on our sensory friendly options and kid zone offerings,” Ms Boomsma said.
The event raised $3000 for Wet Noses Animal Rescue who provided volunteers to assist with the event.
“We are really grateful for our exhibitors who not only travel and exhibit for free but also donate LEGO to be auctioned off to raise money for Wet Noses – all for the love of LEGO,” Mrs Robinson said.
We are thrilled to win the Community Event of the Year Award and thank the community for supporting the event and especially our sponsors and exhibitors who make it all possible.
- - BrickGambier organiser Emma Robinson
The City of Mount Gambier Australia Day event commences at 7:30am with a cooked breakfast available for purchase from Lakes Rotary Club of Mount Gambier and entertainment by local performers Cheap Sunnies, Phoenix Music Studio and North Gambier Primary School.
The awards ceremony will commence at 9:15am with the Australian National Anthem and flag raising by the 48th Army Cadet Unit.
“Please join us as we recognise the noteworthy contribution of these members of our community, I look forward to seeing a strong crowd of people at the Cave Garden to join in the celebrations,” Mayor Martin said.