Some of the people and organisations that have worked behind the scenes over many years for the Wodonga community will be honoured with citizenship awards tomorrow at Wodonga Council's Australia Day event.
Wodonga's Citizen of the Year is Ceryn Campbell, the Young Citizen of the Year is Brooke Beaston and this year we have joint winners for the Community Orgnisation of the Year - Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare and Wodonga State Emergency Services Volunteer Unit.
Come along to Wodonga’s Australia Day activities from 7am to 10.30am at Willow Park and congratulate our recipients in person.
Activities are as follows:
- 7am to 8am: Free barbecue breakfast
- 7am to 7.55am: Wodonga Brass Band with Sing Australia Choir
- 8am to 8.25am: Acoustic performance by Iva Mahoni
- 8.15am to 8.30am: Guests to be seated
- 8.30am to 9.30am: Citizenship Ceremony
- 9.30am to 10.30am: Apex Wodonga to serve free Anzac biscuits
- 9.30am to 10.30am: Iva Mahoni plays music to close
Citizen of the Year - Ceryn Campbell
Highly respected former police sergeant Ceryn Campbell has dedicated her life to serving the community in both her professional and personal lives and was nominated for the award in recognition of her work with the Wodonga Cemetery Trust .
She served 38 years with Victoria Police and was stationed in Wodonga on two separate occasions, racking up 34 years of service in the city.
Ceryn and another female colleague were the first policewomen to work at the Wodonga Police Station in 1975.
After taking a promotion in Melbourne for several years, she returned as the first female sergeant to work at Wodonga and, on occasion, was acting senior sergeant.
One of her most memorable and enjoyable roles over the years was organising and attending the children’s Blue Light Disco run by Victoria Police.
“I served on the Blue Light State Council for a number of years and I am actually a life member for the service I provided for close to 20 years,” Ceryn said.
“It was rewarding at the time and even more so now to hear stories of people who attended the discos and the stories of what they remember.
“When you look back and hear those stories now, it’s great to know you were appreciated.”
She reflects on her time as a policewoman as rewarding and continues serving the community in her retirement.
“I was surprised, I never thought I would get an award such as this because the things you do in the community you don’t do with the view of ever getting an award,” Ceryn said.
These days Ceryn is an active member of the Wodonga Cemetery Trust, joining nine years ago to help with the daily operation and management.
“We are a group of volunteers who manage the cemetery and I have made some great friends through this work,” she said.
Ceryn can also be found playing competition tennis twice a week and regularly volunteers her time to organise the matches and draws for the Wodonga Tennis Club.
She is also on Wodonga Council’s Place Names Advisory Committee and a member of the Australian Red Cross, volunteering during the recent bushfires.
Young Citizen of the Year - Brooke Beaston
Brooke got her first taste of business when she made and sold handmade greeting cards to family and friends from a young age.
Now the 24-year-old runs two businesses and is the chair of Young Business Edge, a sub-committee of Business Wodonga and Albury Business Connect.
Brooke opened her first hairdressing salon at the age of 18 and strived to grow her business, now owning a larger salon – Beaston Rose Hair Co in Mayfair Drive, Wodonga.
Motherhood was next on her cards and after her son Grayson came along, Brooke and her partner Hayden started a business, Soft Play Albury-Wodonga, which hires out soft-play equipment on weekends.
Brooke said the award came as a huge shock.
“I am still processing this news but it’s great to be recognised for my hard work,” she said.
In 2021, Brooke was a finalist in the Albury Wodonga Business Awards in the category of Outstanding Young Business Entrepreneur.
She was also a recent panelist at the Young Business Leaders Q and A in Albury and has been involved in the 2022 Hear our Voice Project, allowing students to interview her in her salon.
Her goal is to inspire others and to make a difference in Wodonga.
Community Organisation of the Year - Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare
Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare, a not-for-profit organisation, is an essential service provider to those in our community experiencing food insecurity.
Established 14 years ago, the organisation now has about 140 volunteers who provide 18,500 hours of valuable service each year.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, FoodShare supported the community by delivering pre-packed emergency hampers to contactless pop-up drive throughs on both sides of the border.
More recently, FoodShare has been providing assistance to those affected by floods across the region.
In the past year, FoodShare has collected 1.5 million kgs of food.
This equates to about 1.55 million meals being distributed to thousands of families within a 150km radius of Albury Wodonga through 225 regional agencies, educational institutions and community groups.
While the pandemic eased in the second half of 2022, the economic flow-on effect is still being felt in supply chains and the cost of living.
To support members of our community more directly, in November 2021 FoodShare proudly opened the doors of a social supermarket that is now supporting more than 1000 people each month.
Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare Acting CEO Sue Thornton says the supermarket allows individuals to choose their own grocery items in a warm, welcoming and supportive environment.
She says the Australia Day award is a great way to recognise the organisation’s hard-working volunteers and hopes it will raise more awareness of the social supermarket.
Community Organisation of the Year - Wodonga State Emergency Services Volunteer Unit
Since their unit was established in 1974, Wodonga SES volunteers have shown an outstanding contribution to the city.
The unit has 45 members - the youngest aged 18 and the more experienced members notching up more than 20 years of service.
The team has not only saved local lives and properties, but also ensured the community stayed connected during emergencies.
SES volunteers respond to requests for help during storms, floods, road and water rescues, damage to buildings and other disasters that can strike without warning.
Recent achievements include responding to 239 calls for help, including 57 for flood assistance, 68 sandbagging requests, two water rescues, 21 road crash rescues, 30 trees down, and support to other emergency agencies.
In the past month alone, volunteers have contributed more than 3000 hours.
However, that does not reflect the additional hours that volunteers contribute in training and community activities such as driver reviver stations, fund-raising events and community education.
Volunteers train every Tuesday night to ensure their service to the community in emergencies is the best it can be.
The recent floods have seen Wodonga volunteers not only assist in supporting our local community, but also being deployed across the state to help other communities in need.