A community gem

Australia Day ambassador Matt Levy, left, and Mayor Neville Kschenka, right, congratulate the 2020 Citizen of the Year Louise Mulligan. Photo: Kim Woods.

Tireless volunteer worker for the Barellan community and farmer, Louise Mulligan, was named as the Narrandera Shire’s Citizen of the Year for 2020.

Louise has served on the Barellan and District War Memorial Club, Barellan Progress Association, Barellan Show Society and Barellan Working Clydesdales committees, and is a volunteer for Barellan Aged Care.

She has overseen the growth of the Good Old Days Festival from a low key demonstration to an event attracting working draught teams, 500 caravans and 8000 visitors from around the nation.

Louise spends many unpaid hours balancing and reconciling the committee’s finances.

In her nomination, she was described as having a great love of the Barellan community and a quiet achiever who never seeks accolades.

“I just want to help – someone asks me to come along and help, so I do,” Louise said. “I just enjoy doing these things and helping people, making sure we get through it successfully.

“Yes the Clydie weekend has become a huge event but there is a lot of people in the background who help make it the success it is.

“Every single volunteer should be acknowledged as they do put in many hours – they work hard and it’s good fun.”

Louise said preparations would start on the 2020 festival in February following on from the success of the 2019 event. She said early indications were the 2020 event would be a big one, which was fantastic for the region.

“It is now one of the biggest events in the region and that’s a bit scary but we will work towards it.

“I didn’t expect to be nominated but it is nice to think that someone thinks enough of you to nominate you.”

Louise has juggled a tough year farming-wise with her volunteering commitments.

Barellan Working Clydesdales committee chairman Bruce Bandy paid tribute to the hard work undertaken by Louise.

“Louise and secretary Norma Zingel are the hardest working people out of the lot – we couldn’t do without either of them,” Mr Bandy said. “During the festival, Louise spends the whole weekend locked up in a tiny room sorting out the finances.

“Louise doesn’t have horses but she has been involved since the beginning.

“Whatever community group is going, she is in it – she puts a lot of time and effort into whatever she does.”

Louise was selected from a strong field of nominations including Allen Law, Gordon and Violet Bobbin, Paul Knowd and Robert Norrie.

In other awards, Braden Lyons was named as Young Citizen of the Year, Robert and Neta Close were joint winners of the Senior Citizen of the Year and the Narrandera Golf Club volunteers were declared the Organisation of the Year.

Club president Jeff Osmond accepted the award on behalf of the golf club volunteers.

The volunteers undertake 140 hours a year on course maintenance to keep the greens, tees and fairways to a high standard whilst maintaining the watering systems to ensure the ongoing beautification of the course. There are two volunteers who handle the finances and daily club operation. Others help behind the bar, assist with weekly Rotary dinners and drive the courtesy bus.

Mr Osmond said three years ago a small group of members attempted to save the club from extinction.

“We banded together and worked hard,” he said. “Through this dedication and financial grants, we were able to bring back the club to where it should be. It is now a viable sports club for all members of the town to be proud of.”

Robert and Neta Close are founding members of Narrandera Can Assist and have made significant contributions to fund raising efforts to help shire residents struggling with the burden of expenses while undergoing cancer treatment. Mrs Close said Can Assist has been able to help thousands of people over the past 30 years.

“We are lucky to live in Narrandera and to be Australians,” she said.

As mayor of the Narrandera Youth Advisory Council, Braden Lyons aims to engage young people within the shire and positively influence the future of Narrandera.

Braden gave in inspiring speech at last year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations and is actively engaged in Australian politics. He was vice captain at Narrandera High School in 2017 and worked at the Narrandera Out of School Hours care centre.

Lockhart’s Diana Alexander received an OAM in the Australia Day awards for her services to education and the community of Lockhart.

Mrs Alexander was the Riverina regional arts coordinator from 2004-2013 and assistant principal at Lockhart Central School from 1992-2002. She is also a CWA member and a parishioner of the Lockhart Uniting Church since the 1980s.

Coleambally’s John Stuckings received the Australian Fire Service Medal for services during the Black Saturday fires in 2009, Colinroobie fire in 1994, Moruya in 2001, Canberra fires of 2003 and Tumbarumba in 2014. He was also involved in supporting the State Emergency Service in the floods of March 2012 in the MIA.

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