Long-time volunteer named municipality’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year

LOCAL Bridgewater long-time volunteer and community service participant Janet Fedczyszyn has been named this year’s Brighton Council Australia Day Citizen of the Year.

Council’s Australia Day awards were announced by Acting Mayor Leigh Gray.

The other recipients are the Australia Day Volunteer of the Year, Peter Geard, who is also a Brighton councillor, the Event of the Year, The Spring Food Festival coordinated by Jordan River Service Inc’s Cheynee Pullen, and the Young Citizen of the Year, young athlete Sam Walker.

Waqar Akram Alizai formerly from Pakistan and who now lives in Bridgewater, was conferred with Australian citizenship.

Award recipients  Peter Geard, Susan Walker (on behalf of Sam Walker), Cheynee Pullen for The Spring Food Festival and  Janet Fedczyszyn with acting Mayor Leigh Gray and Australia Day Ambassador Bernadette Black.
Award recipients Peter Geard, Susan Walker (on behalf of Sam Walker), Cheynee Pullen for The Spring Food Festival and Janet Fedczyszyn with acting Mayor Leigh Gray and Australia Day Ambassador Bernadette Black.

Founder of The Brave Foundation, Bernadette Black, gave the official Australia Day address.

Cr Gray said Janet Fedczyszyn had been on the Jordan River Service (JRS) board of management since 2011. Prior to her role on the board, Janet was a regular attended of the Jordan River Pensioners’ Club monthly meetings.

“Janet has and continues to be very heavily involved within the Jordan River Service as current vice president of the board and previously as its public officer. She is also a volunteer cooking tutor for the Chef’s at Home cooking program which has been running in the municipality for 10 years,” Cr Gray said.

“Not content with all of her other volunteering duties, Janet also volunteers her time with the Fast Foodies Cooking program, as well as helping with Jordan River Service events such as the Community Christmas Party, Neighbourhood House week events, the Christmas Parade, The Spring Food Festival, barbecues and fundraising events such as the Melbourne Cup luncheons.”

Janet is also a strong advocate for her community lobbying politicians for funding for many of the programs in which she’s involved.

Volunteer of the Year, long-time Brighton resident and Brighton councillor Peter Geard has been involved with the Brighton SES Unit since 1975 and is its Unit Manager. This management role covers both internal and external training for all unit members, aspects covered include safety and operations, building and vehicle maintenance and budgeting.

Peter is also the training instructor at the Brighton Fire Brigade.

“Peter was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2001 for his service to the community and was awarded the Emergency Services Medal in 2016 for his services to the SES. He also received a national medal for his services to emergency services.

Peter has been deployed several times over the years to help emergency efforts interstate, the most notable being the Brisbane floods in 2011, cyclone Yasi in Northern Queensland also in 2011, the Brisbane storm events of 2013, and most recently, to NSW several times in response to the bushfires with the most recent deployment in recent weeks.”

Brighton Council’s Australia Day Event of the Year is The Spring Food Festival  organised by the municipality’s Jordan River Services Inc. It was initiated as part of the Social Determinants of Health project successfully tendered for by Jordan River Services five years ago. This aspect of the project was based around food security, by enabling access to fresh and healthy food for members of our community. The first Spring Food Festival was held in October 2015, and has continued to be held each year, last October was its fifth successful event.

“The event attracts approximately 450 – 500 people each year and while mostly members of this community attend, it also attracts people from outside the municipality. It provides the opportunity for families to learn about growing their own produce and then turn that produce into delicious  and nutritious family meals. The Spring Festival is a fantastic initiative for our community.

Sam Walker, who is Brighton Council’s Young Citizen of the Year, began participating in athletics in the local Little Athletics club at age 11.  “The leading T38 100m sprinter at the 2018 Australian Championships, Sam Walker was rewarded with a place on the Australian team for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Aged at just 15 years and 166 days when he faced the starter’s gun, he was at that time the youngest male on the Australian track and field team. In November last year he participated at the World Championships in Dubai. Sam is a rare athlete in the fact he competes in both track and field events. He will obviously go far and we as a community, wish him well.”

Cr Gray congratulated all award recipients of Australia Day awards as well as the municipality’s newest Australian citizen.

“We are indeed very fortunate to have so many wonderful people and organisations in our community helping to make our municipality an even better place to live and work,” Cr Gray said.