THREE Mitchell Shire organisations have joined forces with a new initiative to honour people who have given exceptional service to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell, Kilmore Racing Club and the North Central Review will present the ‘My COVID Hero’ community awards, recognising local people in the community who have gone above and beyond in their work or service.

The awards will thank those people who worked in particularly challenging circumstances throughout the pandemic – especially in the fields of medicine, healthcare, nursing, policing, ambulance service, the State Emergency Service, Country Fire Authority and other volunteer groups.

Finalists, their families, colleagues and community supporters will be invited to an award ceremony in late May to not only formally recognise the recipients’ efforts but credit the organisations they represent.

Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell vocational services committee chair Bruce Nicholls said judges would recognise people who had displayed actions that embodied the Rotary creed of ‘Service Above Self’ and who epitomised that quality in their daily lives.

“Recognising individuals whose service to their community during the pandemic has been exceptional will bring our community together in a celebratory way and inspire others to follow in their footsteps,” he said.

Mr Nicholls said Rotary had five avenues of service – club, community, international, youth and vocational – with the awards falling under the latter, recognising people working in trades and/or professional services who displayed excellence and pride in their work.

“Each year, chairmanship of the vocational service portfolio changes. New chairs are able to refresh or reinterpret the club’s work in that portfolio,” he said.

“In past years we have had Pride in Workmanship Awards, recognising things like tradies who have excelled in their work, people whose vocational service to others has been exceptional et cetera, police awards and other similar programs.

“This year, given the unique historical circumstances of the COVID pandemic and the special challenges it has presented to our communities, I thought we needed, as a one-off program, to recognise those who gave exceptional service during the pandemic in key public help and protection roles.

“The awards encompass people working for Victoria Police, hospitals, nurses and carers, paramedics, SES and CFA, as well as outstanding individuals who had risen to this new challenge and served us well.”

Mr Nicholls said Rotary was committed by its charter to recognising vocational excellence, and had done so for 100 years.

“The program is designed to positively reinforce behavioural excellence, which goes above and beyond and reflects the Rotary ethic of service above self,” he said.

“A secondary but important goal is to inform the public about Rotary’s work and inspire those who share the service above self ethos to consider joining Rotary. The My COVID Hero program will give Rotary deep fingers into its community and maximise its pull to those who crave an opportunity to serve and may Rotary as the way for them to do so.”

Nomination forms have been sent to various emergency service and volunteer organisations, but the public can also nominate a worthy recipient.

To nominate someone for their exceptional service, email mycommunityhero@outlook.com and provide their full name and their organisation and title, as well as your name and relationship to the nominee. A 50-word outline as to why they deserve special recognition should also be included.

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