Esperance 2020 citizens of the year celebrated

Outstanding members of the Esperance community have been recognised for their service and leadership at the Australia Day Council's Citizen of the Year Awards on January 26

Closing another successful year of the Rotary Club of Esperance's Australia Day Family Fun event, nominees were cheered on by family and friends as their achievements were shared with their community.

Citizen of the Year was awarded to Christiane Smith, Senior Community Citizen of the Year was Susan Starr and Community Group of the year was presented to the St John Ambulance Esperance coordinator group.

Shire of Esperance president Ian Mickel lead the ceremony alongside Australia Day Ambassador Tori Anderson.

Ms Anderson is a trail-blazer in the not-for-profit space and has worked across the world, including in New York and Pakistan.

She currently works with Anglicare WA and is on the board of directors for philanthropy organisation, 100 Women.

Ms Anderson said she was thrilled to visit Esperance and to celebrate with the community.

"Australia Day is about celebrating our nation, its achievements and most of all, its people," she said.

"We acknowledge and celebrate the contribution that every Australian makes to our nation.

"Today we will be acknowledging many homegrown Esperance superstars who have inspired us all.

"They are your comrades, they are your friends and they are pretty incredible individuals that make this town and country a better place to live."

Community pride: Christiane Smith (right) was named the Esperance Citizen of the Year pictured with Farmers Across Borders treasurer Darren Starcevich and chairperson Sam Starcevich. Photo: Sarah Makse.

Community pride: Christiane Smith (right) was named the Esperance Citizen of the Year pictured with Farmers Across Borders treasurer Darren Starcevich and chairperson Sam Starcevich. Photo: Sarah Makse.

Citizen of the Year was awarded to Christiane Smith for outstanding service to her community through her commitment to a range of volunteer roles across music, agriculture and emergency services.

As secretary of Farmers Across Borders Ms Smith has been a driving force behind the volunteer organisation, which delivers hay to pastoralists facing drought or natural disasters across the country.

Ms Smith could not attend the ceremony as she was on the road to Meekatharra in a convoy of more than 20 trucks distributing hay to drought-stricken farmers on the 2020 Australia Day Hay Run.

She is an active member of the Quarry Road Bushfire Brigade, Moving Movies Esperance vice-chair, shares her musical talents at community events, volunteers as a broadcaster at Hope FM, was a board member for Esperance Care Services and organiser of the Festival of the Wind.

Ms Smith was recognised for her compassion and willingness to always step in to help her community.

Five other shining stars were in the running for this year's title including photographer Jaimen Hudson.

Mr Hudson was nominated for his talent and success in showcasing Esperance to the world through his award-winning aerial photography.

As an ambassador for Esperance, he has garnered two wins in the 2018 WA Young Achiever Awards and was named a finalist for the 2019 Young Australian of the Year.

Environmental advocate and president of Keep Esperance Beautiful Noel Fleming was recognised for his enthusiasm and dedication to protecting the Esperance coast and encouraging sustainability.

Mr Fleming has instigated countless community clean ups and spearheaded the 'Don't be a Tosser' campaign which inspired many to roll up their sleeves and keep the town tidy.

Former shire president Victoria Brown was nominated for her leadership and service to her community over her eight years on council and four years as president.

She was honoured for her leadership through the 2015 bushfires, sacrifices made for her community throughout her time on council and for mentoring local women in business and the arts.

Patricia Watts was honoured for her selfless donation of a kidney to a young father and close family friend.

The donation enabled him to continue to live a full life with his wife and three young daughters and compete in the World Transplant Games in England.

Mrs Watts was also recognised for years of volunteer work at Esperance Care Services and as a devoted member of the Country Women's Association.

Esperance Care Services manager Susan Meyer was nominated for her commitment to mental health and passion to help those in need.

Alongside her husband Chris, Mrs Meyer has evolved Esperance Care Services into a vital community service.

She has been the Chaplan of Nulsen Primary School for the past five years, where she lead many initiatives to help students to grow, build relationships and feel included.

Super Starr: The Senior Community Citizen of the Year was awarded to Susan Starr. Photo: Sarah Makse.

Super Starr: The Senior Community Citizen of the Year was awarded to Susan Starr. Photo: Sarah Makse.

Environmental advocate Susan Starr was named Senior Community Citizen of the Year.

Mrs Starr was recognised for the creation of the Home Environmental Network which aims to instigate positive changes in the home to lessen environmental impact.

Through the network, Mrs Starr has shared her passion for sustainability and environmentally conscious living online and at public events including the Esperance Growers Market.

She continues her environmental advocacy as president of the Community Waste Action Group.

In 2018, Mrs Starr also started the 'Death Cafe', an initiative which aimed to reduce the stigma of death by openly discussing the subject and sharing information in a friendly setting.

Mrs Starr thanked her fellow nominees and said the win was unbelievable.

"I can't get it out of my mind how we as humans have an impact within our homes but also we need to think about not just Esperance as our home or Australia as our home, but this whole planet," she said.

"I would just love people to think that everything people do has an impact and we are all citizens of the earth and we should all think about our everyday actions and decisions."

Esperance Mechanical Restoration Group's Desmond and Elisabeth Plecas were nominated for their 45 years of service to numerous organisations across Esperance.

Since joining the restoration group in 1995, the pair have been involved in all facets of the club and raised more than $200,000.

Mrs Plecas was instrumental in leading a sewing group to create thousands of beanies and blankets for children's hospitals, she also instigated the Prostate Cancer BBQ and coordinates the annual Collectors Fair.

Mr Plecas has advised many group members on restoration projects and helped to grow the organisation into a popular community group.

Restore Hope Foundation volunteer Jan McKenzie was also nominated for her dedication to supporting vulnerable families by cooking and delivering food to those in need twice a week for decades.

She was recognised for her ability to offer support and care without judgement and for her work as a dedicated respite carer.

Winning team: The Active Citizen Award for a Community Group or Event was awarded to the St John Ambulance Esperance coordinator group. Photo: Sarah Makse.

Winning team: The Active Citizen Award for a Community Group or Event was awarded to the St John Ambulance Esperance coordinator group. Photo: Sarah Makse.

The Active Citizen Award for a Community Group or Event was presented to the St John Ambulance Esperance coordinator group.

The group of dedicated volunteers were recognised for their vital work behind the scenes coordinating emergency responses and dispatching ambulances 24-hours a day.

The volunteers run the only sub-centre in the state with a triple zero coordinator service and coordinate responses for satellite centres in Munglinup, Salmon Gums and Condingup.

They are specialists in organising communications during an emergency by liaising with the state triple zero operations centre, hospital staff, emergency services and volunteer ambulance officers.

The coordinators enable volutneer ambulance officers to have the freedom to continue their daily tasks in between emergency calls.

The team also run a very successful first aid kit sales and service department, first aid training and medical coverage at sporting and community events.

Manager Julie-Anne Clarke accepted the award on behalf of the group.

"Our co-ords are all volunteers, some are retired ambulance officers, some are current serving ambulance officers and some just like to serve in the role of coordinator because they care for the community. They are all amazing people, thank you," she said.

Farmers Across Borders were also in the running for community group of the year.

The volunteer led organisation was recognised for its dedication to the nation's farmers and graziers facing natural disasters and drought by delivering hay, feed and support directly to those in need.

To date, the group had delivered more than 9,500 bales of hay to farmers through Hay Runs to NSW and the Murchison area of WA.

As the awards presentation took place, a convoy of more than 20 trucks distributing 2000 hay bales were on the road to Meekatharra for their 2020 Australia Day Run.

The group were recognised for providing not only vital resources but hope to fellow farmers across the country as proud ambassadors of Esperance.

Following the Australia Day Ceremony, four Esperance community members were welcomed as new Australia Citizens in a ceremony led by president Ian Mickel.

Phillip Hizona, Barbara Bennet, Esther Welsh and Marcel Huizinga were presented with certificates and a native plant to mark the special day.

Esther Welsh from Ireland has been living in Australia for more than 10 years and has worked as a teacher at the Esperance Anglican Community School for six years.

She said her heart was in Australia and she shared the special moment with her family.

"I've been in Australian 10 years now so it has been a long journey to get here," she said.

"It's the first day of the rest of my life, it's a huge milestone."

Barbara Bennet moved to Australia from America more than seven years ago, she has since settled in Esperance with her husband and two daughters.

She said she loved being a part of the Esperance community.

"The community is just beautiful and it's so calm, I've made some really great friends down here," she said.