Australia Day awards: Matthew Bray Horsham's Young Citizen of the Year

HORSHAM Rural City's Young Citizen of the Year Matthew Bray is passionate about Australia Day.

"It's my favourite public holiday of the year and I've said that from day one," he said.

The former Horsham College captain, 18, said it was a day to chill out and appreciate the people in his life, and be grateful Australia was a country where people could do so.

"That's one of the most important things to me," he said.

"Through work and the footy club I've got to know all these people.

"It's good knowing you're part of a community and the community's also a big part of you."

Matthew plays football for Horsham RSL Diggers.

He and Mr Heard will receive their awards on Sunday at Horsham's Australia Day commemorations in Sawyer Park.

Wimmera Machinery Field Days organisers will receive the Community Event of the Year award.

Horsham Mayor David Grimble congratulated all the winners.

"Their efforts enrich our city and the lives of others and we thank them for this."

Horsham man James Heard is the city's Citizen of the Year.

The retired Wonwondah farmer, 81, said the award came from nowhere.

"I didn't even know I had been nominated," he said.

But his wife Margaret, who helped friends at Horsham Rotary Club with the nomination, was clued in from the start.

Her expert knowledge was needed to comprehensively list all the many ways Mr Heard has served the community.

Since 1966, he has been a dedicated Rotary club member, winning a Paul Harris Fellowship.

Mr Heard has been an elder of both Horsham Uniting Church and Wonwondah Uniting Church.

Other highlights include his involvement in Horsham Historical Society and life memberships at both Wonwondah Hall Committee and Horsham Pony Club.

"My mother and father were particularly community-minded and encouraged all the family to take an interest in community affairs," Mr Heard said.

He believes Australia Day is an important occasion and celebrates it every year.

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