A BRUSH with his own mortality opened Russ Goodear’s eyes to a simple fact — that this world is about helping each other.
It was that philosophy that yesterday led Mr Goodear to be named Warrnambool’s citizen of the year at the council’s official Australia Day celebration at the botanic gardens.
Mr Goodear was nominated by the Warrnambool Daybreak Rotary Club and said he was humbled to receive the award.
“I do this because I can, because I want to help others,” Mr Goodear said.
“When people say we want to acknowledge you for that, it’s very humbling.”
Five years ago when he was facing his own medical challenge, Mr Goodear’s outlook on life changed.
“I realised then how important it was to give, there were people who gave to me and helped me through a difficult time. The experience changed me and taught me I had to give more back than I was giving.”
Mr Goodear has organised countless musical events at local venues to raise funds for causes including Peter’s Project, Prostate Cancer research, Breast Cancer research, Movember, beyondblue and the Warrnambool Diabetes Resource Centre.
More recently he was a director of the Under 25s Road Safety Challenge, a team leader of the project planning team for a Warrnambool Australia Music Festival and was a director and convener of the South-West Banksia Investors Support Group.
He said he was especially proud to have his two children, Nadina and James, on hand to help him celebrate.
“It’s a good day for a dad when your children can be proud of you and I want to dedicate this award to my two children and to all the musicians, venue owners and everyone else who is behind me with everything I do,” he said.
Warrnambool’s young citizen of the year is Emmanuel College student Olivia Niddrie. The 16-year-old is involved in the Warrnambool Youth Council, South Warrnambool Football Netball Club, WDEA, the Hair Clips for Hope project, Emmanuel College’s World Challenge Group to Borneo and Young Vinnies, as well as volunteering at local op shops and soup kitchens.
The community event of the year award was presented to Warrnambool’s Rotary clubs for the Rotary House.
Community achievement awards were presented to Robert Lowe senior, Keith McLeod, Andrew Squires and Bruce Pritchard.
Mayor Michael Neoh said each recipient was a fine example of commitment to improving Warrnambool and the region.
“The leadership they show in giving their time to improve the lives of other people is a great demonstration of what it is to be an Australian,” he said.
As part of the celebrations, 13 people took the oath to officially become Australian citizens.
Warrnambool’s Australia Day ambassador, Channel 10 weatherman Mike Larkan, spoke about Australia being a land of opportunity and diversity.
“Being Australian is like being part of a big, noisy extended family,” he said.
“Contrast is an Australian way of life. We are a country built on migration. No matter where you come from, you can be a part of it.”