Two shire residents are joint winners of the Narrabri Shire Citizen of the Year Award.

Veteran member of the Narrabri Volunteer Rescue Association, Harvey Black and former Wee Waa Public School principal Peter Carrett were announced as the 2020 winners on Australia Day.

This year the Australia Day ceremony, with guest, the Shire’s Australia Day Ambassador Len Pascoe, was held at Narrabri Golf Club, a venue which combined indoor and outdoor facilities.

Narrabri Shire mayor Cathy Redding welcomed attendees and Len Pascoe and the nominees for the feature events of the day, the announcement of the 2020 Citizen of the Year, the Young Citizen of the Year, the Community Event of the Year and the Environmental Citizen of the Year.

This year there were 12 nominees for Citizen of the Year, with each candidate’s nomination revealing a profile of community engagement, volunteerism and commitment.

The nominees were David Morris, Jenny Wilson, Cheryl Hennessey, Joanne Tailby, Harvey Black, Peter Carrett, Tom Kay, Darrell Tiemens, Julie Dowleans, Ian Bailey, Eletha Bailey and Trish Mackereth.

The joint winners were community contributors of long standing, the mayor said.

“Harvey Black was nominated in recognition for his unequalled and sustained voluntary service to the community as a founding member and mentor of the

Narrabri Volunteer Rescue Association since 1975,” said the mayor.

“With over 44 years of involvement he has also taken many state, regional and higher level roles developing skills which he has brought to community.

“Peter Carrett, a now retired long standing principal from Wee Waa and Burren Junction Public Schools, has brought his passion for music to the community by forming a community band. The community band performs at Wee Waa District events such as Anzac Day, carols in the hospital grounds and musical events at Whiddon Wee Waa aged care.”

Joint Citizen of the Year, Peter Carrett, said he was ‘very humbled to receive a nomination for Citizen of the Year and especially so when I read through the citations of all of the other nominees and then to be declared a joint winner of the award left me a little overwhelmed.

“After considering what it means to be named a Citizen of the Year I think it is an affirmation of daring to have a positive dream for your community.

“The drought means people have little time for relaxing or entertaining such cultural pursuits as participating in a community band.

“But if I had waited until the drought ended I might be too old to give the band the time to grow that it will need.

“So I dared to dream that a band could develop in Wee Waa.

“To other people who dream I say give it a go. No one does things in their community thinking of possible awards.

“ We are bound by the physical location we reside in but the community we live in is bound by people.

“It is people who make our town what it is.

“John Kennedy said famously ‘ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country’ the same applies to our community.

“I have a gift for music and teaching which I use to inspire people and put a smile on their face.

“Every one of us has skills and abilities we can use to build up our fellow man so I say dare to dream and try to do the best you can in whatever circumstance you find yourself in and smile.

“It makes people wonder what you have been up to!”

“Harvey Black has an unequalled history of sustained voluntary service to the Narrabri Shire community,” his nomination read.

“He is a veteran Narrabri Volunteer Rescue Association member, a long time leader and mentor to generation of volunteers.

“His name is synonymous with Narrabri VRA.

“Harvey was one of the founder members of the Narrabri VRA in 1975.

“He has been the constant link which has helped sustain the VRA through its development over the ensuing 44 years.

“Harvey’s voluntary service involves much more than attendance at regular meetings and decades of fund raising events.

“It includes weekly training sessions, manning the Driver Reviver stand for highway travellers during school
holidays, which he has done many times, and the years in which he travelled on weekends to help with training other country squads – largely at his own expense.

“In the early years of the VRA, Harvey Black and the team he led were called to highway accidents several times each month – some of these were more horrific than others and involved multiple deaths – three and up to five people killed.

“Apart from the mental toll this must have taken, Harvey has been actually injured in the line of duty – bitten by a Black snake while retrieving it from a local resident’s shed – snake removal is another aspect of his voluntary service. (He still suffers from some dysfunction in the bitten hand three years afterwards.)

The Narrabri VRA is now a leading emergency response organisation in country NSW, thanks in no small way to Harvey Black’s advocacy, lobbying and hard work over many years.

“Many will not be aware that Harvey was in the early years also a leader of the Narrabri SES as a floodboat captain before the SES became a separate entity.”

The Young Citizen of the Year category received four nominations, Georgia Goodhew, Matthew Nash, Jenna Baxter and Emily Shearin.

The 2020 Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year Award was awarded to Wee Waa’s Emily Shearin.

Emily was nominated for her outstanding achievements in mentoring and advocacy for rural Australia and the wider local community.

She has enjoyed many successes across a wide arena of activities from agricultural to sporting achievements.

“I would like to thank the Narrabri Shire for the opportunity to represent the youth of our community.

“Also, congratulations to the other young people on gaining recognition in the community. It is excellent to see Mr Carrett recognised as co-citizen of the year. Go Wee Waa!”

The Community Event of the Year winner for 2020 is the Chamber of Commerce for staging the ‘Back to the ‘Bri’ Festival and Truck Show.

“The family oriented community festival was planned by a small sub committee of the Narrabri Chamber of Commerce in a very short period to bring the festival to fruition over the 2019 October long weekend bringing the community together and increasing trade to the Narrabri Shire,” the award citation said.

The Environmental Citizen of the Year for 2020 was awarded to Georgia Goodhew who was nominated for initiating a recycling program that has now been integrated into the weekly sports activities.

The income generated from the initiative is returned to the school for education and resources.

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