The outstanding work of individuals and organisations across the region was celebrated at Australia Day ceremonies on Saturday.
This was an opportunity to put aside the challenges being faced and recognise the fact we are fortunate to live in ‘the lucky country’.
In Deniliquin the crowd at the Australia Day breakfast and ceremony was significantly less than previous years, and there will need to be reflection on why this occurred. Perhaps it was simply a by-product of the recent heatwave - many residents thought the heat would continue and did not want to venture out.
Maybe the announcement of award winners more than a week before the ceremony had an impact, taking away a historic element of intrigue.
It is unlikely we will know the answer until next Australia Day, when we find out whether or not the small crowd was a one-off.
Interestingly, at many other Australia Day ceremonies throughout the region the crowds were roughly what was expected.
Regardless of attendances, the celebrations gave us an opportunity to say thank you to some of the many citizens who play a special role in making this region a great place to live.
On Saturday, none would be more worthy than Deniliquin High School teacher Brenda Norman, whose outstanding effort to swim the English Channel and raise awareness of youth mental health was recognised with her Edward River Council Sportsperson of the Year award.
ERC also had a very worthy Citizen of the Year in Kathy Simpson, who has dedicated countless hours to various community projects and causes since moving to the area more than 25 years ago.
At Koraleigh, Murray River Council presented its Citizen of the Year to Sandra Andrews, who is one of the many hard working community members across its broad geographic community.
There was also recognition for outstanding young achievers in our region, whether in community or sporting fields.
The ERC Young Citizen award went to Emily Butcher for her work with the World Youth International Nurses In Action Program, which saw her working in Nepal.
In Murray River Council the Young Sportsperson Award went to inspirational athlete Alvin Cooper, who has shown prowess across a range of sports.
The Pastoral Times congratulates these outstanding citizens for their contribution to our community, setting the example for others to follow.
Hopefully next year, in Deniliquin at least, there will be an increase in the numbers who participate in our Australia Day activities.