Margaret Haddin and Judi Unger named on 2020 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll

Two Hidden Treasures have been unearthed in the Parkes Shire this week.

That's how State Member for Orange Philip Donato described the moment he awarded two of the shire's outstanding female volunteers for their inclusion in the 2020 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll.

Hidden Treasures is an initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries' Rural Women's Network, which aims to formally recognise and thank inspiring women volunteers within NSW rural, regional and remote communities.

Parkes' Margaret Haddin and Judi Unger from Peak Hill are among the 104 women named on the 2020 roll.

"The prestigious Hidden Treasures award recognises the women volunteers who really go above and beyond in what they do for the community," said Mr Donato, who presented the awards at the Parkes Shire Council Chambers on Wednesday.

"[Margaret and Judi] ensure the viability of several important community groups and charities; without their contribution many local initiatives we take for granted would just not be possible."

Mr Donato said he really enjoyed presenting these awards and that such work from volunteers like Margaret and Judi helped to run communities and helped communities to stay together.

"It's an honour to be able to celebrate women volunteers who give so much of their own time, effort and dedication to their community," he said.

"Thank you all for your invaluable contribution... Our region is incredibly grateful for all that you do.

"And thank you to the nominators as well."

Margaret grew up in South Sydney, and after marrying husband Bob, they moved to Georges Hall before moving to Parkes in 1979 and established an engineering business.

The couple raised four children in Parkes, while Margaret tirelessly supported their local business and Bob on their property at Cookamidgera, which they purchased in 1983.

She has selflessly contributed her time to Landcare, both locally and regionally over the past 10 years, through roles of treasurer and chairperson for Central West Lachlan Landcare Inc, and on a district level with Cookamidgera Landcare group, assisting with the treasurer role.

Margaret was also part of the 2011 NSW Landcare and Catchment Management Forum in Parkes, once again taking on the role of treasurer for the event. And recently, through her involvement with Cookamidgera and Community Landcare Inc, improvements have been made to the local hall.

Four years ago, Margaret joined the committee for Parkes Meals on Wheels, contributing her time and skills as treasurer.

She has been an active member of the Parkes community for more than 30 years, volunteering her time and knowledge to assist not-for-profit groups to enable them to support others.

She is still contributing endless hours each week to both Landcare and Meals on Wheels.

On Wednesday Margaret thanked her husband for his support, and Central West Lachlan Landcare coordinator Marg Applebee, who attended the presentation, and the Parkes community for the nomination.

For Judi, her passion for empowering people in rural communities was nurtured during her formative years on her family's farm in the foothills of the Hervey Ranges, east of Peak Hill.

A love of learning together, with devotion to her family, have enabled Judi to live a productive life within and beyond our community.

She chose teaching as a career and completed a BA degree and DipEd at Macquarie University. When she retired as deputy principal of Parkes Public School in 2012, Judi left a legacy of personally created, innovative teaching resources and educational programs, which are still being adopted throughout the state.

The Aboriginal Mathematics Resource Kit K-6 and Peak Hill Sight Word Program are but two of Judi's innovations.

In mid-1980 Judi and her husband Ray began to convert their conventional farm north-west of Peak Hill to an Australian certified organic/biodynamic broadacre enterprise.

They now host annual workshops and field days to share their journey and knowledge.

"Judi's contributions of plants, kits, catering and advertising for these events are invaluable," her honour roll citation read.

She is serving a three-year term on the Board of Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd, done while studying for qualifications to mentor students in organic and biodynamic farming, which she has now completed.

Judi's passion to support women in agriculture led her to join and take active roles in NSW Women in Agriculture, Orana Women in Agriculture and the Rural Women's Network.

Judi is also the president of Peak Hill's Leisure Centre, volunteers monthly at the town's Arts and Craft Information Centre, and uses her photographic skills to promote the annual Arts and Craft Exhibition and tourism for Arts OutWest.

"We've been on a huge journey with our farm, it's been a lot of hard work," she said on Wednesday.

"I finished my studies last year and I am now teaching students [online] in organic farming at RuralBiz Training.

"My life revolves around agriculture, gardening and art and crafts."


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