WIMMERA volunteers were honoured by more than 300 people at the Volunteering Western Victoria Volunteering Recognition Awards on Friday night.
Volunteering Western Victoria chief executive Julie Pettett said the event showcased the work of dedicated volunteers across the region.
‘‘The calibre and the breadth of volunteering that happens across the Wimmera is absolutely amazing,’’ she said.
Ms Pettett said the event was spectacular and had grown significantly in size since the inaugural awards night two years ago.
‘‘It was spectacular. We were very pleased with the event – we had about 300 people there,’’ she said.
Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network’s Reading Buddies program was the night’s big winner.
‘‘The program is about the future of our community,’’ Ms Pettett said.
‘‘It’s about the future of the Wimmera and it’s about supporting children through reading.
‘‘It gives children the opportunity to have a relationship with another adult while sharing their excitement for reading and learning.’’
Ms Pettett said the program helped to build the foundation of the region.
She said the awards night helped to paint a picture of some of the work that happened in the Wimmera.
‘‘There’s no better opportunity to develop an understanding of what happens across the region,’’ she said.
‘‘It really is inspirational.’’
Ms Pettett said judges had a difficult choice to make in picking winners.
‘‘It really is quite a hard gig to prioritise. All the finalists were amazing, so we were really thrilled,’’ she said.
Laharum’s Liz Hopkins, who is behind the North West Grampians Newsletter, won the lifetime achievement award.
Nhill’s Friday Fiestas in February was also recognised.
Ms Pettett said Oasis Wimmera’s award illustrated how volunteers supported diversity.
‘‘This is a time to celebrate those people who support good volunteering programs, both organisations and individuals across the community,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s really about that recognition of the importance of volunteers.
‘‘The power of volunteering is what makes our community special. If we didn’t have it, what would our community actually look like?’’
Ms Pettett said volunteers helped a range of groups including the elderly, needy and children who played sport.
Volunteering Western Victoria Volunteering Recognition Awards winners
Young volunteer award – Alana Williams
New resident award – Bruce Donnelly
Lifetime achievement – Liz Hopkins
Young Landcare leader – Callum Nicholson
Individual Landcare award – Mark McKew
Celebrating diversity – Dance With Diversity, Oasis Wimmera
Community health – Moving Mountains, Northern Grampians Youth Action Council
Energy conservation and environment – Nhill Swamp Wildlife Reserve Boardwalk Restoration Project
Connecting communities – Reading buddies, Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network
Creative communities – Fiesta Fridays in February
Emergency recovery and rehabilitation – Halls Gap, Pomonal and Stawell fire brigades
Sporting body award – Jeparit Easter Fishing Competition, Jeaprit Anglers Club
Community governance – Link Neighbourhood House, Kaniva
Community Landcare award – Laharum Landcare Group
Shire awards – West Wimmera Shire Council, Link Neighbourhood House; Hindmarsh Shire Councils, Fiesta Fridays in February, Horsham Rural City Council, Wimmera Uniting Care foster care program; Northern Grampians Shire Council, Grampians Community Health