For a region that has witnessed so much generosity during a time of extreme hardship over the past month, it was fitting that a devoted volunteer who spends much of her week giving to the community was named this year’s Snowy Valleys Citizen of the Year.
Jan Locke received the honour at the official Australia Day awards ceremony held in Stockwell Gardens Sunday.
Perhaps best known for her Smooth Movers classes that help improve the health of seniors through exercise, assisting balance, flexibility and confidence, she also teaches Tai Chi.
In accepting the award, an emotional Mrs Locke said she is just one of many volunteers in the community.
“There’s thousands of volunteers here,” Mrs Locke said. “I’m very honoured to be the one chosen today.
“We all love what we do. Nothing is an effort. We just love to give.”
Jan and Col Locke arrived in the Tumut region two decades ago, and the Locke clan here has since grown to about 17.
“We all just love being here,” she said. “The community has enriched us and we all enjoy contributing to the community.
“You get so much from giving – we get so much love in return.”
Mrs Locke was part of the founding group of Friends of Stockwell Gardens that helped replenish and rejuvenate the gardens of the park.
She is an active member of the Gilmore Progress Association and Gilmore Landcare Group, treasurer and secretary of the Tumut Croquet Club, and is an active contributor to the Festival of the Falling Leaf.
She also plays a role in organising local Vietnam veterans reunions.
Meanwhile, talented musician Rory Phillips was named the Snowy Valleys young citizen of the year.
Unable to accept the award – he’s been performing at the Tamworth Country Music Festival for much of the week – the 12-year-old was recognized for his outstanding musical exploits.
Along with Tamworth, he’s hit the stage at Byron Bay Bluesfest, Cobargo Fold Festival, Kangaroo Valleys Fold Fest and Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival, as well as events closer to home over the past year.
He was the winner of the Independent Country Music Australia Encouragement Award at the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival, ahead of being selected as the Shine Showcase artist at this year’s event.
He was a semi-finalist at the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Performing Arts Award and became an officially endorsed play for the Buzz Box Guitars Company.
Rory’s younger brother Reuben accepted the award on Rory’s behalf, reading out a speech prepared by his brother.
“I can still remember when I got my first guitar for my fifth birthday,” he said. “It was the start of something special and put me on a path to so much joy.
“I couldn’t imagine that eight years later, I’d be getting an award for something that I love.”
Rory, via Reuben, said it was a thrill and honour to represent Tumut and the region through music as he travels throughout the country.
“Whenever I’m on stage I’m proud to say I’m from Tumut,” he said.
Rory thanked his family for all their support, saying he couldn’t do what he was doing without their help.
He also thanked his first singing teacher, Tash Proos, current teacher Lyn Bowtell, and former guitar teacher Evan Saunders for “all the time shredding together”.
“I get so much out of music and never had done it for the accolades, so to receive an award for what I’ve done is simply the icing on the cake.”
The hugely successful Tumut Takes 2 fundraiser claimed the Snowy Valleys Service to Community Award on the Australia Day ceremony held in Stockwell Gardens.
A highlight on the local calendar, the event has been staged for the past five years and is organised and run by a group of volunteers.
Far more than a concert, Tumut Takes Two involves more than half a year of fundraising before the highly-anticipated show weekend that brings together all facets of the community.
The shows typically sell out the Montreal Theatre each night, equating to about 900 tickets over the June long weekend each year.
Tumut Takes Two is a singing and fundraising competition, which pairs local celebrities with seasoned entertainers to produce a show of duets and a wide variety of fundraisers for the whole region to enjoy. Some of the area’s best known faces have graced the stage with their singing mentors by their side, with the aim of raising much needed funds for the Tumut region’s local charities and not for profit organisations.
Since the show’s conception, the committee has facilitated the raising of close to $400,000.00 for local charities and community projects. Some of the highlights include:
• Funds contributed toward purchasing a new bus for Gadara School.
• Important technology and learning projects for local schools in Tumut and Adelong.
• A new horse for the Riding for the Disabled organisation.
• Funds that have brought important mental health presentations and services to Tumut through Riverina Bluebell.
• A brand-new outdoor gym in Batlow.
• A hospital bed to provide accessibility for mobility challenged families seeking the services of Tumut Regional Family Services.
• Important equipment for our local hospital including a Doppler machine.
Tumut Takes II founding organiser Jess Coleman said it was an honour to receive the award at a time when so many people had stepped up and supported one another over the past month.
She noted there were some 50 people around town who’d given up more than half of their year to fundraise for local organisations as part of the Tumut Takes II event.
Other Service to Community Achievement awards went to the following recipients on Sunday.
Described as a diligent and caring person who dedicates her time with music in her heart and a smile on her face, Patricia Mangelsdorf is a pianist for the Sing Australia Choir and was the driving force behind St Vincent de Paul’s new outreach centre in Tumut, the Blessed Rosalie Rendu House, which opened in November.
It is hoped the outreach place will be a sanctuary where those in need can find a place to relax and talk with others.
Neil Hamilton, Lucy
Henderson and Doug Gee
Relatively new to the Tumbarumba region, the trio have spent many hours advocating for and standing up for the interests of the local community.
All three are part of the Save Tumbarumba Shire committee, working on behalf of the community with little benefit to themselves.
Their efforts have helped drive the demerger cause to its present stage of being before the Minister for Local Government, ahead of a likely review by the Boundaries Commission.
An active member of the Adelong School community and a dedicated parent, Rachel Brown will often put her hand up to contribute, such as managing the clothing pool shop.
She regularly donates things to the school without being asked, such as books for the library and containers for the newly-formed Breakfast Club, and is an active member of the Parents and Citizens Association.
The contribution Jasmine Cremona makes to the small community of Khancoban was described as priceless.
She compiles the Jottings newsletter, each month creating a a valuable and informative resource for Khancoban residents.
A mother of four and the wife of local police officer, she’s worked hard to boost the profile of the local Jottings publication over the past 15 months.
Dr Tarek Sari
The founder and president of the Tumut Cycle Classic, Tarek Sari has helped raise over $100,000 for the Tumut Hospital.
Those funds have purchased a range of equipment at the hospital, including an oxygen saturation machine, a paediatric stethoscope, eight recliner beds, an endoscopy telepack, and five bariatric beds.
He spends hundreds of hours organizing each event.
A member of the Bupa committee and associated with Lions Club, Phyllis Darragh was also a volunteer at the community Christmas luncheon, and is a member of the Church of England ladies group.
She is a part of Tumut Performing Arts Society an enjoys entertaining and singing.
She was described as valuable member of the community.
Passionate about getting people of all ages engaged in community programs, Kimberley Towse has made considerable contributions that have made an immediate impact on the Tumbarumba community.
She’s part of the Friends of Tumbarumba Library and single handedly initiated a program designed to get younger children to become interested in reading, increasing literacy levels.
She also initiated the vegetable garden at Tumbarumba Public School and was described as a passionate and dedicated individual.