See the story below this gallery of photos capturing community moments and Australia Day award winners!
Yass Valley’s Citizen of the Year for 2021 goes to Peter Firth from Gundaroo, the final winner announced at the ceremony in Coronation Park on Tuesday morning. Peter’s legacy of tireless community work in Gundaroo spans many years, in particular the creation of the Gundaroo Mens Shed.
Mr Firth’s efforts that won him the distinction this year was his role in the Gundaroo community, in particular in the bushfire fighting brigade as well as being a leading member of the Gundaroo Community Association. Local member Wendy Tuckerman was approving of this year’s choice, affirming Peter as a “very deserving person, Gundaroo is lucky to have such a wonderful community representative.”
Peter’s acceptance was followed by praise of his local community,
“Gundaroo is a small village but it has a heart of gold.”
Peter Firth – Yass Valley Citizen of the Year
Like many of his fellow award winners, Peter was unaware of his nomination, but feels “It was a great honour.”
A long-serving and valued member of the village community, Peter’s contributions have spanned local government, active community service, fundraising, sport and social activities.
He has been instrumental in saving and revitalising local facilities, preserving heritage and traditions, creating new ways of fundraising to support village groups and, most recently, supporting mental health through the creation of the Men’s Shed. Peter has been active in the bushfire brigade, co-founded the Gundaroo Community Association, served on the Gunning Council for 11 years, led the Gundaroo & District Historical Society as founding member and President and was the driving force behind establishing and operating a number of local community groups.
Senior Citizen of the Year Mick Newling
Former sergeant of the police force and Yass Rotary Club President, Michael Newling took home the award for Senior Citizen of the Year, awarded through his commitment to community events, evident in his appearance at the day’s ceremony; Michael was unaware of his nomination, being present instead for his community as a volunteer. Michael’s other credentials for the award include his founding of the Yass Billy Cart Derby, Michael initiated driver training at Yass High promoting road safety in young drivers, organised the Bowel Cancer Awareness barbeque and Bi-Centennial Celebration and has served as the Chairperson of the Rotary Foundation.
When asked for his opinion on his accolade, Michael humbly responded with “it’s just recognition of a joint effort over a long time, that’s all.”
Young Citizen of the Year – Holly Fleming
Moving on to the youth of Yass Valley, the winner of Young Citizen of the year was accepted by Holly Fleming, for her national efforts in dance. Holly, a long time Yass dancer starting at the Murrumbateman Dazzle Dance Academy, has since gone on to represent MAKS Ballet Studio, a representation that has been noticed even overseas with an invitation extended by the United States. Holding over 100 trophies, Holly was nominated by her mother, a gesture she feels immense gratitude for;
“My mum said to me a week ago to read an email, and it was the confirmation email of my nomination, I was like wow…yes, it was a nice surprise, I was not expecting it, I didn’t even think about having a nomination let alone getting an award, so having mum nominate me was a huge surprise and I was really thankful for that.”
Upon accepting her award, Holly was overcome with emotion as she acknowledged those who have helped her “I just want to say thank you to my parents and my dance studio.”
Community Group of the Year – Yass FM
Richard Wilson collected the Community Group of the Year award on behalf of his colleagues at YassFM 100.3, Yass Valleys local radio station.
Yass FM was recognised for its efforts in keeping the Valley populace up to date on the COVID pandemic and changes to the town’s restrictions. Staffed by volunteers, these individuals were on air every day during the height of the pandemic, providing a regular surplus of information. YassFM, even before the COVID pandemic, had been an active part of the community for approximately two decades, demonstrating a concrete, resolute position within the culture and life of Yass Valley.
Individual Community Service Awards
For the Individual Community Service Award, The Murrumbateman Christmas Carols Committee was chosen as this year’s winner.
Having been an active group in the wider community for over a decade, The Carols started out from a small recreational hall activity to a sprawling community event that collects groups of up to five hundred at a time.
The award gives particular notice to its volunteer creators Karen Davis and Robin Darmody, for their securing of the event and influence over its growth into a community celebration.
As representatives of the Bowning Community, Stuart and Francis Atkins received this year’s Individual Community Service Awards, applauded for their efforts in the Bowning areas Bushfires and overall service to the Bowning Rural Fire Service. Their association and volunteer efforts with the SPIN Foundation and Can Assist was also noteworthy, due to the donations and fundraising activities, bringing together people from the community for good causes. Both Stuart and Francis had previously gained attention for their competitive archery, with Stuart a gold medal champion at international competitions, showing these two are not new to public nods.
“Yass Valley is a very special place to call home, but what makes it special are the exceptional individuals who volunteer tirelessly for their community,” said Mayor Rowena Abbey.
“It is always wonderful to publicly acknowledge our award recipients and their contribution at our annual Australia Day breakfast, but after a challenging 2020, it is even more fitting to come together and celebrate our community champions in this way. Congratulations and thank you.”
Local member Wendy Tuckerman has made the Yass celebration each year since her election and was thrilled with the community spirit and award winners, deeming it her favourite quality about Australia Day.
“I love Australia Day, because it gives us an opportunity to all come together, especially to celebrate those wonderful citizens in our community who give so much, to me that’s what Australia is all about, celebrating who we are and our community and Yass put on a wonderful ceremony this morning, and we were lucky to have a number of community citizenship awards as well. It’s just been a lovely day.”