We just couldn't choose! Wakefield Regional Council will present two Citizens of the Year 2020, along with a stellar Young Citizen and Event of the Year selection.
Owen's Brian Parker and Blyth's Tracey Andriske are joint winners of the prestigious title, which Wakefield Mayor Rodney Reid says "is acknowledgement of their many years of community service."
On Australia Day, Council presents the winners of each category with an award to thank and recognise their hard work.
"Both Brian and Tracey have grand visions and a big heart that have helped bring about some well-known projects we see every day," Mayor Reid said. "It was just too difficult to choose because Council recognises them both as remarkable, irreplaceable people."
Brian, who 'epitomises community spirit' has volunteered his time into a long list of groups, including Owen CFS, Owen Swimming Pool, Adelaide Plains Male Voice Choir, Balaklava Rural Youth and all of the local sporting clubs.
Some projects he has played a strong role in include the Owen Wetlands, setting up the Owen Community Shed and spearheading the Owen Walking Track, which transformed a largely unvisited 'green belt' into a walker's paradise.
Brian was the driving force to bring the concept of a Men's Shed just after the devastating Pinery Fire - a very timely addition after such a traumatic event. He loves being in the shed and working with the members and this is a role he continues to play, as well as looking after the management and expansion of the shed.
Wakefield's other Citizen of the Year Tracey, also tirelessly works on projects to benefit the town and its people - most of them voluntarily; like grant writing and fundraising for a third court for the Blyth recreation grounds.
Another attribute to be admired of Tracey is her many roles around town.
To name a few: she's a regular volunteer behind the Candy Bar at Blyth Cinema, an active member in the Trinity Blyth Lutheran Church and is part of the Blyth Progress Association, helping with events like busy bees, tree planting, Christmas carnivals, ANZAC Day and Australia Day.
Tracey takes care of administrative responsibilities at Blyth Netball Club and umpires on Saturdays, and she still holds the record for the most games played - 513 games!
A cause close to her heart is raising money for cancer research. In 2010 she organised a 24 hour shearing challenge on Blyth Oval, which raised $45,000. She has also organised a Relay for Life, five years running.
The Young Citizen of the Year will be presented to Kara Binka of Balaklava, who on top of her year 12 studies has still managed to give so much back to the community. As a St John Ambulance Cadet, a volunteer basketball coach at Aussie Hoops and by running not one but two Relay of Life, as well as Biggest Morning Tea and Starlight Foundation events.
Throughout her time at Balaklava High School she excelled in leadership roles and participated in events wherever she could; from swimming carnivals and athletic days to entering her work in photography and arts competitions.
Kara has been described by one of her coaches as "an outstanding young woman with a high degree of leadership and empathy."
The Community Event of the Year will be presented to Lochiel's 150 Celebrations Committee for their weekend of celebrating all that is: the home of Lake Bumbunga.
The weekend of 11 October 2019 was as much as about celebrating the town and remembering the past, as it was about 'keeping up tradition'.
A new video was produced that shows Lochiel's businesses, lifestyle and people; replicating a similar film done in 1969, and then again in 1994. The video, along with the two later versions, were sold during the event.
The book Reflections of Cameron was also up for sale. It builds on and refreshes the story from Lochiel's 1969 history book By the Waterhole. A total re-write was undertaken by the Committee with an estimated 1,500+ hours spent on writing the book alone. However, preserving the town's history, so it can be carried on for generations to come, was reward enough.
Events such as a tennis match on the multi-use courts was held on the Saturday. The game holds an important part of the history of Lochiel, as the Club organised a liquor license and rallied together to open the Community Centre as an area for tea and somewhere to meet, after the pub burnt down and took with it a community gathering point. About 60 teas were served Saturday night.
A packed Church service on Sunday was followed up by the formal reunion at Lochiel Community Centre. About 250 people attended, including interstate visitors, Council's CEO Andrew MacDonald, Member for Frome Geoff Brock and Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis.
There was a free lunch on offer, catered by the local ladies group and what followed was the launch of the new history book, as well as speeches made by local identity John Nicholls and Mayor Rodney Reid. The memorial built to commemorate the occasion was unveiled and served as a fitting finale.
Mayor Reid congratulates all award recipients and thanks all who nominated someone.
"What all our winners have in common are the many roles they play within their community - you'll find them at the sport club, you'll see them on the committees and they'll put their hand up to volunteer again and again," Mayor Reid said. "We desperately need more people like this."
"It is an honour to recognise our 2020 Citizen of the Year award recipients, who through their priceless generosity and humble nature have helped shape our region and communities." he said.
Recipients will be honoured at Australia Day ceremonies around Wakefield. The dates and times will be advertised by Council in the new year.