Mayor Bill West said that Council was thrilled with the outstanding nominations for the 2020 Australia Day Awards.
"We have a considerable number of people doing great things in our community and it's wonderful to see them receive recognition for that. This year, there are seven nominations for Citizen of the Year, from all around the Shire and from an extensive variety of voluntary roles. We also had four nominations for the Community Group of the Year and one nomination for Young Citizen of the Year. Unfortunately, no nominations were received this year for the Dr Warren Whiley Memorial Award for significant contributions to Arts, Culture and Citizenship Award," Cr West said.
The Awards will be presented at Cowra's Australia Day celebrations on Sunday 26 January 2020 at the Cowra Civic Centre.
Community Group of the Year
Cowra Family History Group
Formed in 1983, the Cowra Family History Group focuses their efforts on researching and publishing the history of significant Cowra events, places and people. The group runs six days a week on a voluntary basis, assisting people to search for their own family records. In addition, they hold workshops to teach others how to undertake this research. The members have published several books and recorded local cemetery records. A digital index of over 27,000 Pardey collection photos has also been created. The Cowra Family History Group hosted the NSW/ACT Family History Conference in 2005; co-hosted the Australian Historical Society Conference in 2018; participated in Heritage Week 2016 and 2017; host stalls at the Cowra Show; and have participated in the 75th POW Breakout Anniversary commemorations.
Cowra Riding for the Disabled Association
Cowra Riding for the Disabled (RDA) has been operating in Cowra since 1993. As the name suggests, this group provides an opportunity for children with special needs to interact with and learn to ride horses. They currently have 40 children registered in the program, and hold activities every Wednesday with students from five local schools during school terms. The volunteers care for 14 horses for use in the program. Without stables at the event venue, each of these horses must be kept off-site and transported to the Showground Pony Club paddocks every Wednesday. The volunteers care for and train the horses; and train to coordinate the program under strict guidelines. The group provides all necessary equipment for students, ensuring that affordability is not a barrier to participation and do all of this by fundraising to replenish riding and safety equipment, feed and veterinary care.
Cowra Business Chamber
The Cowra Business Chamber has a lot to celebrate as winner of the Western NSW Local Chamber of Commerce 2019 and NSW Business Awards Local Chamber of Commerce 2019. Established over 80 years ago, the group has gone from strength to strength. In 2019, the first Business HUB in Australia was opened as an initiative of the Cowra Business Chamber. The HUB was developed to provide training opportunities, meeting rooms, shared working spaces and is able to offer many new skills to members. The creation of several member groups, including AgriZone, Women in Business, Business After 5 and TradeZone has also delivered additional networking and support options for members and the broader community.
Woodstock Memorial Show Society Incorporated
A revitalisation of the Woodstock Show began in 2013 following a declining supporter base over several years. The town held a special meeting to address the problems and has delivered increasing participation, larger membership, new attractions and a youth development component. Stewards are encouraged to have young 'deputies' to learn the ropes with a view to take on these roles into the future, an innovation having great success. The show members maintain the grounds, make building improvements and provide new infrastructure to support the increased participation. Hosting the show each Father's Day with a focus of a family event continues to draw greater crowds each year, rising from 500 in 2014 to over 4000 in 2019. The organisation provides any profits to the Woodstock community, creating further growth within the region.
Young Citizen of the Year
Kate is a go-getter and actively involved in many Cowra activities. These include being a member of Cowra Youth Council, as current Deputy Chair and member since 2017; UNICEF Drought Summit participant; volunteer in the Australian National War and Peace in the Pacific project in 2018; Festival Youth Ambassador in 2018; junior sport coach for swimming and soccer; winner of the World Peace Day Public Speaking Competition 2019; Ambassador for POW Breakout 75th Anniversary in 2019; St Raphael's School Captain 2020 and Sports Captain 2019; winner of the Cowra Lions Youth of the Year Award, November 2019; and recipient of two education scholarships. Kate holds several casual jobs and is an eager participant in many local sports, achieving high levels of success. She is a contributor to creative competitions such as RAFCA and agricultural shows, a gifted piano player and regularly receives school awards for academic excellence. Kate also has the honour of being nominated for this award by two separate groups. She is truly a remarkable young lady.
Cowra Citizen of the Year
William (Bill) Murphy
Bill Murphy is best known as one of Cowra's leading Accountants, as owner of SWM Chartered Accountants. He is little known for his other many community services. Bill has been a member of Cowra Apex, Rotary Club of Cowra with a stint as President, Chairman of Cowra 2000, Shire Councillor and Deputy Mayor, Chairman of St Raphael's Parish Council and past contributor to many organisations as Treasurer. Bill was Chair of several Council committees during his time as a Shire Councillor. One of Bill's particular achievements was as part of the Cowra Retirement Village Association which resulted in the building of Bilyara and Kalyan Court.
Ian Brown is another well-known character of Cowra. Widely known as a local Pharmacist, he has several other strings to his bow. Ian is current Chairperson of the Cowra Community Chest and Australian Chapter of the World Peace Bell Committee; has been a Shire Councillor and Deputy Mayor, Chairing several Council Committees during the period 1995 – 2016; Rotary Club of Cowra member and Chair of the Rotary District 9700 Peace Fellowship Committee; past Director of the Wyangala Park Trust and Cowra Chamber of Commerce; current Director of Cowra Retirement Village and Chair of its Clinical Governance sub-committee. Ian has been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for service to his club through the Rotary program, notching up 43 years as a Rotarian during 2019.
Jordan Core is the Cowra Business Chamber President and is kicking goals locally, regionally and as current NSW Chamber of the Year. Jordan has held this role for three years and dedicates thousands of hours to the Chamber. He initiated TradeZone and AgriZone, networking events for trade and agriculture industries and was heavily involved in the development of the Cowra Business Hub. The Business Hub has opened its doors to provide business owner skill development, forklift driver training and other training programs. Jordan's commitment to business has seen him invited to work with the NSW Business Chamber as an ambassador for all Chambers in NSW.
Voluntary community service for Arthur Hogan is just a way of life. Arthur has over 60 years contributing to community organisations, an amazing commitment. Arthur is or has been a member of Wattamondara Recreation Ground Trust, Wattamondara Progress Association, Riding for the Disabled, St Vincent de Paul Society, Antioch Youth Group, St Raphael's Church and School, Cowra Trail Riding Club, Cowra Show Society, Cowra Jockey Club, Cowra Rugby League, Cowra Golf Club, Wattamondara Campdraft and Rodeo, Cowra Campdraft, Wattamondara Team Penning and Wattamondara Cricket Club. Arthur's nomination states "he has dedicated his life to volunteer community work...he has the amazing ability to connect with people of all ages and from all walks of life."
Entering his sixth year as Cowra Golf Club President, Robert is seeing his efforts come to fruition. The Cowra Golf Club has seen a revitalisation and growth since Robert took the reins as President, making difficult financial decisions to ensure its ongoing viability. The club now employs over 20 people. Robert spends upwards of 30 hours a week working on projects at the club, mowing, general maintenance and business development. The refurbishment of the clubhouse was one of Robert's projects, leading to the Golf Club becoming one of Cowra's most used function centres. Robert still has projects to complete and is driving the committee to a strong, stable future.
Woodstock Show and St Raphael's Catholic School have seen the benefits of Alison's volunteer work. Over the past five years, she has served both organisations to provide community development initiatives that support their aims and ideals. Woodstock Show has Alison as Honorary Secretary and Publicity Officer. In these roles she has provided promotional and creative expertise to increase participation from 500 to over 4000 since 2014. Increased gate takings has led to increased Show profits that have been donated back to the Woodstock community, including the Woodstock Swimming Pool, Public School and CWA. Alison also provides support to St Raphael's Catholic School by driving development of the Eco-playground, an environmental project including native gardens, environmental sustainability and food production. Since its inception, Alison works with students once a week in the gardens and often works on weekends and during school holidays to maintain the gardens.
Neville Pengilly is recognised as a lovely person and his nomination reflects his community-minded life. Neville was one of the first members of the Bellevue Lodge aged care units which grew into the Cowra Retirement Village of today, incorporating 82 hostel rooms, 50 self-care units and 14 dementia care beds. Neville initially engaged support for this ambitious project from the United Protestants Association, then both Masonic Lodges of Cowra to continue development. He has served as a committee member since inception and continues to this day. His community work includes being a Lay Preacher and Chair of the Uniting Church of Cowra, conducting services at the Uniting Church, Bilyara and Weeroona; Cowra Municipal and Shire Councillor from 1972 to 1992; Advisory Committee member and supporter of the Cowra Food Hall; and driver of maintenance and upgrades to Wesley Uniting Church and Hall, taking on many maintenance jobs himself.