Australia Day was celebrated early and in style this year at the annual Moira Shire Australia Day Awards evening held in Cobram last Thursday, January 18.
Nominations were up from 2017 with council this year receiving 30 nominations in five categories - Environmental Project of the Year, Community Organisation of the Year, Community Event of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year and Citizen of the Year.
Moira Shire General Manager Corporate Simon Rennie acted as MC for the evening with special guests in attendance including Independent State Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed, Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovall and Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy.
Yarrawonga College P-12 Year 11 VCAL Conservation Awareness group “Trees Please” took out the Environmental Project of the Year after the group planted 30 one meter River Redgum trees at Chinamans Island Nature Reserve.
This program was initiated by Year 11 student Will Giltrap who is passionate about the environment and conservation and was presented with the award on the night.
The Trees Please program also included the senior students conducting a lesson to fellow students on native plants, recruiting year 7 and 8 students to plant trees and further enhance the conservation message to students to look after the environment.
Generous hearted man Neil Lonie who is forever giving to the community for the greater good was awarded the Citizen of the Year largely due to his work in raising money and awareness for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday appeal.
As Citizen of the Year Neil has shown exceptional contribution, hard work and determination within the community and endeavoured to enhance and provide for his local community and instil a sense of community spirit and awareness.
Neil said he was pleasantly surprised when his name was called and was more than honoured to accept the award.
“I’m astounded, it’s out of this world,” Neil said.
“I’m truly humbled to be awarded this, I’m a giver and I love giving but I don’t really wish to receive.
“I’ve done what I’ve done with the Royal Children’s due to the loss of my niece and I want to help wherever I possibly can.”
In the past nine years since his niece’s death, Neil has helped raise more than $150,000 with last years tally totalling $24,000.
He is also a family and community minded man and has done so much for various communities, none more so than St James and Devenish.
“It’s also about meeting new people all the time and making lifelong friends,” Neil said.
“Everything that’s going on around the community I just love to get involved in and help where I can because we live in a great part of the world here and this area is home.”
All of Neil’s work within all the clubs he is involved in, on top of the support of town facilities and emergency services is invaluable to the Shire and he is once again showing his charitable nature by organising and holding the Devenish Good Friday appeal festivities again this year.
Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica recognised the commitment and role each of the nominees played in their respective communities and making the Shire a great place to live.
“We are truly fortunate and grateful to have many dedicated and passionate volunteers who donate their time and skills for the betterment of others,” Cr Mustica said.
“Your commitment to your community plays an enormous role within the municipality and we celebrate the role you have played in shaping our towns and communities.”
Muckatah’s Tristan Grinter was awarded the Young Citizen of the Year for his volunteer work as a junior leader with the younger Scout section of his local Venturer Scouts alongside his assistance in the running of Cobram Barooga Commemorative Committees last three yearly ceremonies.
He is also currently treasurer of the local Yullaba Venturer Unit and Chairman of the Northern Region Venturer Scout Youth Council, member of Moira Shire Youth Council and a member of the Muckatah CFA.
The Rotary Club of Cobram won the Community Organisation of the Year award with special mentions to Katamatite Church Craft Group and the Oasis Movers & Shakers who assisted in Relay For Life events alternating between Yarrawonga and Cobram.
Oasis Movers & Shakers won Community Event of the Year after raising more than $10,000 alone and being the highest fundraiser out of 19 teams in this years SunCountry Relay For Life. Numurkah Pink Ribbon Brunch received special mention in this category.