"The people I admire most are those who I call the 'backroom boys and girls'," the 2021 Parkes Shire Citizen of the Year Michael Lynch said.
"They are the ones who keep the small wheels turning, the small wheels turning make the big wheels turn and those people make my job easier."
The long-serving Parkes volunteer was honoured and humbled to receive this year's Citizen of the Year Award, the 26th resident to receive the accolade.
In a year that was most challenging for everyone, there was still so much to celebrate at the annual Parkes Shire Australia Day Awards in Cooke Park on Tuesday - including the addition of some new arts and culture awards.
Michael is renowned for dedicating his daily life to helping others.
He is an extremely active member of the St Vincent de Paul Society, assisting those in need and advocating tirelessly on a range of social justice issues.
In this role he has been particularly active in drought assistance. Since 2018 he has visited more than 1000 farms in the Parkes Shire and beyond, offering both financial assistance and a listening ear.
Michael is also extremely active with the Prostate Cancer Support Group, Parkes Veterans Golf Club and his church community.
"He looks for every opportunity to support his fellow citizens," his Australia Day citation read.
Michael "dearly" thanked those who nominated him and those who supported the decision.
"There are three other people standing here who are equally entitled to this award as I am," he said.
Parkes High School Year 12 graduate and captain Nicayden Greenwood was named Young Citizen of the Year, with his father Luke accepting the award on his behalf.
Nicayden has represented his fellow classmates as an elected member of the Student Representative Council (SRC) since Year 7.
A proud young Wiradjuri man, he led the school through the difficult year of COVID-19 restrictions, making motivational videos for the student body. He mentored younger students in traditional dance and volunteered his time to support students and adults attending the local community Wiradjuri language classes.
He was also an active member of the school community having represented the school in hockey, soccer, touch football, cross country and swimming.
Community Event of the Year - The Art of Resilience
The Parkes Shire's former Drought Relief Officer Roger Kitson partnered with Ub Ubbo art group (Sean James Cassidy) and Parkes Neighbourhood Central to run an art competition for young artists.
The Art of Resilience competition was developed to highlight the enormous challenges faced by young people in the face of the drought, bushfires and COVID-19.
This gave them a means to express their emotions using music, poetry, photography and art.
Feedback from teachers indicated it was a great vehicle to talk about resilience and what it means. It was very successful, with 132 entries being received from across the Parkes Shire.
Environment Award - Lachlan Valley Branch of National Parks Association
The Lachlan Valley Branch of the National Parks Association has been operating for more than 20 years, providing quarterly walks that showcase parks and reserves in the Central West region, while also providing a wealth of information to walkers.
Among the group are local nature enthusiasts, who are keen to share their knowledge.
Walkers not only benefit from the exercise, but they learn about the flora and fauna in a particular area during a walk.
Martin Bell accepted the award on Tuesday on behalf of the association.
He thanked Central West Lachlan Landcare coordinator Marg Applebee for the nomination and congratulated the other nominees.
"How lucky are we to live in Parkes because we are surrounded by some of the best national parks," Martin said at the ceremony.
"There are seven national parks within 100 kilometres of us.
"I encourage everyone to get out there to visit them - they're beautiful, they're there and they're free."
Performance Award - Duncan Clement
Duncan Clement has been recognised for his dedication to music performance in the Parkes Shire for various community and cultural events such as Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and Australia Day.
His display of music sustainability, excellence and persistence during the COVID-19 isolation period, through using computer technologies and social media, kept the Parkes Shire Concert Band rehearsing, performing and connected.
He has also been acknowledged for his keenness to collaborate with regional town bands.
Literary Award - Sarah 'Sal' Mackean
Sal Mackean is a gifted writer who has assisted the writing community within the Parkes Shire in several ways. She has been an active member of the Parkes Writers' Group (also known as Author-rised) and has been a mentor to a number of writers.
She has been part of the Big Skies Collaboration including being published in "Dark Sky Dreamings: An Inland Skywriters Anthology".
Sal has participated in various writing festivals and writing competitions, and is destined to have her work published in the near future.
Fellow artist Jo Laurie accepted the award in her absence and said Sal's writing and creativity is her passion.
Visual Arts Award - Margaret Lewis
Margaret Lewis is a member of the Parkes Painting Group, who helps to provide the community with a very successful exhibition each year. The exhibition brings together local and national artists to share their skills and knowledge with the Parkes Painting Group.
Margaret has been recognised for her contribution to the success and growth of the Parkes Painting Group.
The 84-year-old was very overwhelmed and excited with the win on Tuesday, saying this was her first Australia Day award.
Cultural Lifetime Achievement - Warwick Tom
In an inaugural category that would have been immensely difficult to select the winner among a pool of eight very deserving nominees, it was very fitting 86-year-old Warwick Tom was presented the Cultural Lifetime Achievement Award.
Warwick has been a long-time champion for the arts and cultural richness of the Parkes Shire.
He is generous with his time, volunteering on many boards and committees to support and promote artistic endeavours, cultural events, and develop local creative talent.
For more than 60 years he has been actively involved in the performing arts with the Parkes Musical and Dramatic Society.
He is an active and committed member of the Cultural, Education and Library Services Committee and represents Parkes Shire Council on the Arts Out West board.
Over recent years Warwick has been dedicated to bringing together the many arts and cultural groups to advise and talk with Parkes Shire Council as a collective, which has resulted in the establishment of the Parkes Shire Arts Advisory Council.
"I am absolutely honoured to be associated with so many fine artists," Warwick said at the ceremony.
He said the establishment of the arts council and the holding of the town's first arts festival was a "very big move forward for us".
"Hopefully the arts festival will be repeated next year and for many years to come," he said.
Marie Bashir Academic Award - Chanell Jones
Chanell Jones enrolled in a Certificate II of Business at the Parkes TAFE mid-2019.
Excelling and enjoying her studies, Chanell returned at the beginning of 2020 to successfully complete the Certificate III in Business Administration.
Working part time, and studying, didn't seem to trouble Chanell so she then enrolled and successfully completed a Certificate III in Accounts Administration through distance learning.
"Chanell's teachers commented that she was always a pleasure to have in class as she contributed well to discussion topics, worked diligently on her set work and always encouraged other class members to do their best," Chanell's Australia Day citation read.
Chanell has since gained a full-time position with at a real estate firm in Parkes and has enrolled herself into the Statement of Attainment in Real Estate Practice.
Certificates were awarded to community groups, organisations and individuals who had shown outstanding persistence and support within the Peak Hill community during what was a difficult year.
Trundle Australia Day Award: Trundle Progress Association.
Additional certificates were awarded to community groups and individuals who had assisted the community throughout 2020.
Tullamore Australia Day Community Service Appreciation Awards:
- Staff of Tullamore Central School.
- Staff of Tullamore Pre-school and Childcare Centre.
- Staff of Tullamore Multi-purpose Health Centre.
- Stall of Tullamore Medical Practice.
- Tullamore police officer and supporting officers.
2021 Bogan Gate flag-raiser and official welcomer: Amber Roach and Cooper Bond.