Australia Day 2017: Murray Bridge award winners revealed

Retired businessman Graham Hallandal has been named Murray Bridge's citizen of the year for 2017 at an Australia Day ceremony on the city's riverfront.

More than 250 people came to Sturt Reserve, fuelled by the promise of hot and cold breakfasts and drinks provided by local service clubs.

Thirty-three new Australian citizens were sworn in and a total of six awards presented to deserving community members.

Citizen of the year

Mr Hallandal's citizen of the year accolade came in part for his passion for hiking, as editor of the newsletter "Footsteps" and a helper with the establishment of several trails in the district, including the Lavender Federation Trail.

He also volunteers at Monarto Zoo and participates in Mobilong Rotary Club activities.

The other finalists for the award were general practitioner Robert Thompson, Rockleigh community organiser Barbara Pym, former Murray Bridge Park Run director Sara Pixley and Murray Bridge Lions Club's Ann Hughes.

Young citizen of the year

Young citizen of the year Ruby Eckermann stood out for her advocacy for women, especially survivors of domestic violence; her academic record; and her community involvement, through The Station, Habitat for Humanity and the Murray Bridge Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

The other finalists were both Air Force Cadets: Walter Harris, a fundraiser and YAC member, and Samuel Mach, the cadets' executive officer and an apprentice motor mechanic.

Volunteer of the year

Rockleigh community organiser Ms Pym was named volunteer of the year, as her involvement in the Country Fire Service, Uniting Church, bushfire relief, Carols in the Bush and local history-keeping – as well as being named Australia's best home cook by Channel Seven – elevated her in a field of worthy candidates.

Also nominated were Tyndale Christian School board member Russell Milera, Mypolonga historian Irene Hughes, Lions Club volunteer Hylton Moritz, Relay for Life chairperson Heather Buddle and junior cricket promoter Lee Spurling.

Junior sports person of the year

Judges could not split two nominees for the junior sports person of the year award.

Murray Bridge Swimming Club captain Laura "the Machine" Cummings overcame hearing impairment to set records in seven categories and earn a scholarship to train in the United States; while Kobe Allen represented the Adelaide Hills in a national soccer competition and Murray Bridge in inter-regional basketball.

Brodie McKeown earned a nomination for excelling at athletics, cricket, swimming and football.

No nominations were received for the senior sports person of the year award.

Community event of the year

Murray Bridge's community event of the year was a domestic violence awareness day organised by the Soroptimists, led by Annette Korzeba, in response to concerning statistics from across South Australia and the murder of Mannum woman Jody Meyers.

The weekly Murray Bridge Park Run was also nominated in the category, as was Mypolonga Primary School's centenary.

Community initiative of the year

Soroptimist International was a deserving winner in the community initiative of the year category, despite being the only nomination.

The group's Murray Mallee Wig Library helps people enduring serious medical treatment regain a sense of pride in their appearance by offering not just wigs, but also scarves, beanies and hats.

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