Winners of the East Gippsland Australia Day Awards were announced by East Gippsland Shire Council at a civic ceremony in Lakes Entrance today.
The awards recognise community service and achievement. Recipients are chosen based on nominations put forward by residents from across the shire.
The 2020 Citizen of the Year is Blake Hollonds of Swifts Creek and Young Citizen of the Year is Annie Rogers of Bairnsdale.
Joint winners of Community Event of the Year were 100th Orbost Uniting Church Flower Show, and Paynesville Music Festival.
Mayor Cr John White said the awards recognise people who selflessly give back to their communities.
“Congratulations to our Australia Day Award winners. East Gippsland has so many people giving back to their communities and making a difference, it is a difficult job for the judges to select award recipients,” Cr White said.
Citizen of the Year – Mr Blake Hollonds
Mr Hollonds has been deeply involved in his community throughout his life.
A member of the St John’s Anglican Church at Swifts Creek, he also played football for Swifts Creek and governed on its tribunal.
As a member of the National Party, he attended local meetings and state conferences with other community members.
His association with the farming and livestock industry was instrumental in fundraising efforts for Legacy.
Mr Hollonds is a foundation member of Legacy’s East Gippsland Group established in 1949; he also served as President in 1960.
In 2011, Mr Hollonds compiled the history of the East Gippsland Group of Legacy covering over 60 years. It was a very difficult task considering most of the information was obtained from old minute books, newspaper cuttings and the odd story. The result is a valuable book on Legacy at work in East Gippsland.
Mr Hollonds is a humble man, and even amongst his fellow Legatee members, few know that at some stage in the past he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal.
To this day, he rarely misses a Legacy meeting. He travels to Bairnsdale summer and winter regardless of the weather. His knowledge is very much respected and sought after from newer Legatees.
Mr Hollonds is a highly respected and valued Legatee and a great contributor to East Gippsland Legacy and his community.
He still has six Legacy widows under his care and is in regular contact with them and takes great care of them and their needs. At over 95 years of age, Mr Hollonds still farms on his property, which has been in the family for four generations.
Young Citizen of the Year – Ms Annie Rogers, Bairnsdale
Annie’s achievements are numerous and outstanding. However, she is modest with a genuine desire to always do her best with a focus on how she can help others. She is a well-rounded young person, a very mature individual, a caring individual and always friendly.
Annie has competed in state and national taekwondo competitions across Australia.
In 2019, she took the gold medal in her division at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in Melbourne. Annie is a Third Level Black Belt.
Annie is also an accomplished saxophone and piano player.
Whilst studying VCE Annie gave up many lunchtimes helping mentor our younger players attending junior and intermediate band rehearsals sitting alongside them helping them play their parts.
Due to her experience Annie has also taken lessons teaching junior players. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and it is evident she has a real love for music.
In 2019 Annie was a Bairnsdale Secondary College School Captain and Dux of the school.
Community Event of the Year – joint winners
100th Orbost Uniting Church Annual Flower Show
Last year, the Orbost Uniting Church celebrated the centenary of its annual flower show, which began in 1919.
The Annual Flower Show is a highlight of Orbost’s events calendar and allows residents to display their artistic flair by making the floral displays and growing amazing flowers.
In 2019, the show received approximately 200 adult entries and over 400 children entries. This demonstrates the level of support that the event receives from the local community.
The show enables the local school students to perform in front of an audience to gain confidence, and it also gave the secondary school’s hospitality students industry experience as they waited tables at afternoon tea and lunches.
Community members who are not part of the church also volunteered at the show in various capacities.
The Flower Show generated a lot of publicity for the town, particularly as ABC television presenter Heather Ewart opened the show.
As part of the celebrations to mark the centenary milestone, almost 90 people attended a tea.
Paynesville Music Festival
The 2019 Paynesville Music Festival was held February on the town’s foreshore.
This free event benefitted the community by improving social connectedness, fostering community spirit and showcasing the beauty of the Gippsland Lakes and East Gippsland.
The music festival attracted around 3,000 people over the weekend, which gave an economic boost to local businesses.
The 2019 Paynesville Music Festival was a popular event for music and artistic culture in the area.
It gave local musicians and bands the opportunity to perform in a festival/concert atmosphere.
A number of school bands, community bands and the local theatre group also performed, as the festival promotes local talent and music ability.
Many children form part of these groups and they enjoyed the opportunity to perform.
Research has shown that people come from far and wide to attend the festival, with many returning year after year.
Paynesville Business and Tourism Association worked together with other community groups such as the Lions Club, the Sea Scouts and Rotary, as well as local school bands, to involve the whole community and put on an outstanding event that everyone enjoyed.
Council is supporting volunteer groups to host the following free community events for Australia Day on Sunday 26 January.
Bairnsdale: Breakfast from 7.30am. Main Street Gardens, near Bailey St.
Bruthen: Breakfast from 8.30-11am. Central reservation, Main St.
Lakes Entrance: Breakfast from 8am. Ceremony from 9.30am. Mechanics Hall.
Lindenow: Breakfast from 7.30am at Lindenow Hall. Ceremony from 8.50am at Amy Shand Park.
Omeo: Breakfast from 8.30am. Ceremony from 10am followed by music and games. Court House Gardens.
Orbost: Breakfast from 7.30am. Games from 8am. Ceremony from 9am. Forest Park.
Paynesville: Breakfast 8am. Ceremony from 9am. Foreshore near Craft Centre.
Twin Rivers: Johnsonsville Hall at 10.30am
East Gippsland Shire Citizen of the Year is Blake Hollonds of Swifts Creek. Mr Hollonds was acknowledged for his dedication to Legacy and community service.
Annie Rogers of Bairnsdale is the 2020 Young Citizen of the Year. Annie was recognised for her musical and Tae Kwon Do achievements, her volunteerism and encouragement of others.
Paynesville Music Festival was one of the joint winners in the Community Event of the Year category. Pictured are committee members (l-r) Vivienne Porter, Tony Porter, Annie Robinson, Yvonne Vandelden, Angela Dunkley and Martin Richardson.
The centenary of the Orbost Uniting Church Flower Show was one of the joint winners in the Community Event of the Year category. Pictured are committee members (l-r) Janette Osborne, Heather Richards, Rita Cavanagh, Gwen Hatcher, Val Thorpe and Judy Adams.