Hundreds have gathered at Adventureland Park on Friday, January 26, to celebrate Australia Day.
As well as the markets and activities on offer, the annual event featured the Community Citizen of the Year Awards ceremony to recognise those who had gone above and beyond to contribute to the local community.
The ceremony, facilitated by Shire president Victoria Brown, included the presentation of the Citizen of the Year Award to local icon and Esperance community paramedic Paul Gaughan.
Mr Gaughan was nominated for his work responding to emergencies as a paramedic and training and managing 90 local volunteer ambulance officers and support staff.
Ms Brown described Mr Gaughan as an ‘outstanding’ member of community, listing a number of his most impressive achievements.
The West Australian Excellence in Volunteer Management Award winner for 2017 praised the community of Esperance and said, despite their ‘world class beaches’ and landscapes, the ‘richness’ of Esperance was its community.
“I would just like to acknowledge all of the nominees today for their outstanding work in contributing to the Esperance community, it is fantastic,” he said.
“It seems to me that when people in Esperance come together, they form a synergy that is a really positive power.
“I work with about 90 people who contribute many hundreds of hours in all sorts of things, answering phones, organising logistics and backup. In accepting this award today, I’d like to acknowledge those people.”
Mr Gaughan said Esperance was a ‘really fantastic’ place to live and that he considered himself fortunate to work and live in a ‘great community’.
There were a number of nominees for the Community Group of the Year Active Citizenship award, including SAFE Esperance, Apex and the Esperance Music Festival.
Animal rescue organisation SAFE Esperance were nominated for having ‘fought hard’ to get on top of the overpopulation of domestic cats and dogs in the small regional area, reducing rates of unnecessary euthanasia, establishing a network of dedicated foster carers, and reducing the spread of disease among the animals.
Ms Brown said the group had created an environment where dogs and cats were ‘valued’ and presented SAFE Esperance coordinator Janine Button with the nomination.
Service group Apex Esperance was the next to be nominated in the category, recognised for having donated their time to helping senior citizens do everyday task and raising and donating funds to those in need.
Upon presenting Apex representative Sarah Russell with the award, Ms Brown described the organisation as a ‘silent helper’ within the community.
The final nominee of the category was the Esperance Music Festival, nominated for having connected people through their ‘shared love’ of music.
The group, which has run for 46 years, group recognises local talent within the Esperance community and encourages participation.
Member Trish Gardner accepted the nomination on behalf of the group, an organisation Ms Brown said had fostered a ‘sense of community’ between those who has been previously ‘separated’ and ‘isolated’.
The Community Group of the Year Active Citizenship award was awarded to Apex Esperance.
There were two contenders for the Community Senior Citizen of the Year Award, with both Ewin Stewart and David Ford receiving nominations.
Having announced he would not stand as president for the Esperance and Districts Agricultural Society this year, Ewin Stewart was recognised for his service within the role he had held from 1992 until now.
Ms Brown said Mr Stewart’s dedication had seen the Agricultural Show go from ‘strength to strength’ under his presidency and he deserved to be recognised for his contribution to the Esperance community.
David Ford was the second nominee, recognised for having been a long-serving member of many organisations within the community.
As a long serving member of the Rotary Club of Esperance Bay, Ms Brown said Mr Ford was ‘always willing to help’.
Mr Stewart was awarded the Community Senior Citizen of the Year Award and thanked the committees he had been involved with for their hard work and support.
A ceremony was also conducted for two community members receiving their Australian Citizenship, Trisa Cox and Phillip Curtis.