Foster carer, school captain among Mid Murray Australia Day 2020 award nominees

Model citizens from across the Mid Murray district have been celebrated at a morning tea at Mannum.

Mayor Dave Burgess hosted the event on Thursday for everyone nominated for Australia Day awards in the district.

While the winners will be presented with certificates on January 26, Mr Burgess felt it was important that the others receive recognition for their community work as well.

"You support the great character of the towns you live in," he told those gathered at the senior citizens club.

Recognised in the citizen of the year category were Valorie Bottroff, David Brinkley, Kaye Falkenberg, Shane McGrath and Joy Smith.

Gasps were heard when the audience learned Ms Smith, "the absolute epitome of love and patience", had fostered 41 children over the years, including four long-term, as well as teaching a Sunday school at Milendella, crafting blankets for charity and acting in the Black Hill Ladies' Friendship Group and Lobethal Poultry Club.

Mr McGrath earned a nod based on his leadership of Bowhill Progress Association, the beautification work he did around the town, and his establishment of an annual kayak fishing competition which has raised thousands of dollars for the association and for homeless veterans.

Ms Bottroff was recognised for her 58 years of volunteering with Aminya, the Mannum hospital, Mannum Mag and the local history group; her efforts to set up displays in vacant Randell Street shops; and the life memberships she had earned with the Mannum Community Development Committee and Trees for Life.

Younghusband Hall president Mr Brinkley's 40-plus years of service on the hall's committee were recognised in the wake of its 130th anniversary in October.

Another long-serving volunteer, Ms Falkenberg, had chalked up more than 30 years on the Cambrai hall committee and held countless positions within the Lutheran Church, including secretarial roles with St John's at Cambrai and the Mid Murray parish.

Two young citizen of the year nominees were celebrated.

Mannum Community College captain, year 12 graduate, student representative councillor, pedal prix team member and award winner Chelsea Barber was an inspiration, Mr Burgess said: "a natural leader who willingly takes on roles that others may not be prepared to and performs those functions to a high standard".

Another former school captain and Barker Shield winner, Mitchell Heward, was described as an "all-round achiever": a captain and assistant coach with Mannum Football Club, a record-setting swimmer, an SRC event organiser, Caltex Best All-Rounder recipient and award-winning student.

The two runners-up in the event of the year category were Mannum RSL's centenary dinner, attended by 130 guests including His Excellency the Governor, Hieu Van Le, in August; and the celebrations of 50 years since Mannum High School's establishment, which featured a dinner, open days and the creation of an old scholars register in October.

The organisers of the school event now hope to hold a reunion every five years.

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