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Mitchell Shire’s best recognised with awards

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MITCHELL Shire Council shone a spotlight on the outstanding contributions of individuals and organisations making a difference in their communities at its annual awards ceremony last week.

In addition to Pyalong man Brian Moffatt’s Citizen of the Year award, council also handed out honours for Young Citizen of the Year, Community Group of the Year, Community Event of the Year and an Access and Inclusion Champion Award.

Young Citizen of the Year was Hidden Valley teenager Ethan Liddy, who was inspired to raise money for farmers in need four years ago.

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He began riding the length of his street on a bicycle each week to put out bins for several neighbours, collecting money in exchange.

Ethan donates all money to the Buy a Bale campaign, a part of Rural Aid Australia’s effort to support drought-stricken rural farmers.

Ethan was inspired after watching a Hay Mate fundraising concert in 2018, and his parents agreed to match every $100 he raised.

Beginning with a goal of raising $5700 – the cost of a full semi-trailer load of hay – Ethan last week said he was nearing his total.

“Just at the start of this year I made a donation to Buy a Bale and I have now donated a total of $4445,” he said.

“It’s been a crazy four years and it’s amazing to be presented with this award.”

Seymour Football Netball Club won recognition as Community Group of the Year for its outstanding leadership during flooding that struck the town in October.

Club members quickly mobilised, lending their tools, machinery, time, experience and labour to help remove sodden carpets, fittings, furniture, whitegoods, food, clothing and plaster from inundated buildings.

Members also knocked on people’s doors to conduct welfare checks and offer assistance as needed.

Club president Gerard O’Sullivan said he and the club’s members were simply one part of a wider community response.

“The football netball club was a base for recovery initiation, but the response from our community and our contractors, tradies and people to help our fellow community members was outstanding,” he said.

“I would like to accept this award for the entire community, not just the Seymour Football Netball Club.”

Broadford Secondary College’s 60-year reunion was named Community Event of the Year after bringing together many past staff and students.

Detailed displays of the school’s history including sports memorabilia, class photos and academic achievements gave visitors the opportunity to explore the college’s past and relive their part in it.

Mitchell Suicide Prevention Network picked up the Access and Inclusion Champion Award for its unique approach to raising awareness and funds with a book.

Chair Nikki Simos and the late Roger Fletcher included personal stories from 12 Mitchell Shire writers in the book ‘Helping Me to Help You’, detailing the authors’ lived experience with mental health and issues such as domestic violence, anorexia, LGBTIQ+ identity matters, multiculturalism and isolation.

Network member Phil Clancy said the group was established in the wake of the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

“In the time [since we’ve formed] we’ve been very active in relation to supporting people who have issues, but moreso in relation to helping friends and relations of people who may have issues,” he said.

“That has been [primarily] by running mental health first aid courses. Across the shire more than 100 people have now come forward and been trained to assist their friends and relations with their problems.

“A mental health first aid course is being run in Broadford starting on February 4, so if you’re interested, get in touch.”

‘Helping Me to Help You’ is available at the Kilmore Bookstore and the proceeds from sales go directly to Mitchell Suicide Prevention Network.

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