From behind the scenes and into the spotlight

THE unsung, unpaid work of volunteers grabbed the federal spotlight last week, with everyone from musicians to local historians gaining recognition. 

A select handful of volunteers from throughout the district were acknowledged during an awards ceremony by Wannon MP Dan Tehan in Camperdown on Friday. 

With so many local services staffed by donated time, Mr Tehan said volunteers formed the backbone of country communities. 

“Volunteers really are our everyday heroes,” he said.

“Volunteering often involves mundane tasks like driving, spending hours at committee meetings and fund-raising. This is often work that goes unnoticed.” 

Among the recipients were Emily Beaton, Sandra Watkins, Margaret Pilgrim, Helen Lusby, Charles Watt Elizabeth O’Callaghan and Joanne Jackson. 

Group recipients included the Heywood rural health volunteers and the Hamilton community transport service. 

Joanne Jackson from Darlington received a long-term commitment to community service award for her efforts to establish the Abbeyfield aged care facility in Mortlake and her subsequent 20 years of work. 

“We think it’s the best in the area. Its supported to help older residents and it has a specific wing for dementia,” Ms Jackson said. 

After years spent on the Abbeyfield board, Ms Jackson now volunteers with music groups at the centre. 

“You just get into the swing and do things.” 

Mrs O’Callaghan also received a long service award for her 15 years with the Warrnambool and District Historical Society, helping to document and preserve the region’s past.

“No one can really fully understand their community unless they understand the forces that shaped it,” Mrs O’Callaghan said. 

The enthusiastic, prize-winning researcher has recorded aspects of the region’s past in four books and 36 booklets and is now working on a new book documenting the lives of local women in the nineteenth century. 

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