Outstanding workmanship in the shire community has been celebrated by the Rotary Club of Narrabri.

The club presented its Pride of Workmanship Award last Thursday evening, paying tribute to excellence in the workplace.

The award is an annual tradition of the club, and a framed photograph and citation of the winner are featured in the Narrabri Shire Council chambers for 12 months.

Rotary received five nominations for this year’s award.

Nominees were Mel Richardson (MJ’s Newsagency), Angus Turner (Turner Signs), Dr Sarah Purdy (NSW DPI), Michael Richardson (Bi-Rite Narrabri) and Ali Smith (The Courier).

Dr Purdy, Mr Richardson and Ms Smith were announced as the award’s finalists and attended last week’s award presentation at the Tourist Hotel.

Immediate past president Darrell Tiemens paid tribute to the five award nominees for the excellent service they provide to the community in their various roles.

Ms Smith, a senior journalist at The Courier, was announced as this year’s Pride of Workmanship Award winner.

“I feel very humbled to be nominated and recognised by Rotary Club members because really, I don’t feel anything I do compares to the incredible volunteer efforts of community groups like Rotary – they’re the backbone of country towns,” Ms Smith said.

“I love being a journalist, I love my job, and apart from the pressures of meeting deadlines and hoping I’ve got the correct spelling for everyone’s name in a photo – it really doesn’t feel like hard work.

“I work with a great team, and there’s some very kind locals who have always been very supportive.

“And thanks to Gus for proofreading my ag. stories too,” she added.

“One of the greatest things about being a journo is learning something new every day.

“You might learn a new fact, or you might meet someone who changes the way you think about a topic.

“It’s never boring, and it shouldn’t be. Otherwise, the poor readers will be bored to tears.

“Human interest stories, listening to what makes people tick, they’re the yarns I’ve always been drawn to sharing – whether that was at Channel 9, ABC radio, The Courier, Wee Waa News or on the Bush Wanderlust podcast with Katie Watson, I think I take pride in telling those stories because it’s a privilege for someone to open up and let you into their lives, trusting you to share their story – it’s a pretty special experience.

“When I’m writing, I do also try to think ‘how would I feel if that was me?’ I make plenty of mistakes – thank you forgivers – but I think empathy and taking the time to listen are critical to good storytelling and for getting the best out of an interview.

Ms Smith said especially in a small community, she wanted to be able to run into people down the street and for them to be comfortable with the way the story was told and to feel like she was accurate and fair.

“Of course, there is a great sense of satisfaction and pride that comes with producing stories that improve people’s lives or brighten their day, whether it’s about a campaign to change the opening hours of a town’s pool, fix a road or giving recognition to an unsung local hero – those stories matter and as a journo, if you can give people in your community a voice, well, that’s a pretty cool thing and a day well spent.

“I also want to acknowledge how amazing the other nominees are.”

The three finalists’ nominators, who were in attendance at the dinner, were asked to speak about the nominees and the excellence they provide in their roles.

Bi-Rite Narrabri proprietor Tim Logan praised Mr Richardson’s extensive product knowledge as well as the excellent customer service he provides. Mr Richardson has been a valued member of staff for many years.

Dr Karen Kirkby, who works alongside Dr Purdy at the DPI, said she displayed outstanding leadership.

Dr Purdy is supportive of her staff and colleagues and ensures they are fully engaged in research, Dr Kirkby told the dinner gathering.

The Courier’s editor Dylan Smith praised Ms Smith for playing a pivotal role in the newspaper’s editorial team as well as her commitment to being fair and balanced in her reporting.

Mr Smith said Ms Smith always steps up to the plate to support The Courier team in times of high demand, annual leave or sickness.

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