Com­mit­ted vol­un­teer

Southern Riverina news - - AUSTRALIA DAY AWARDS 2019 -

A beam­ing smile couldn’t es­cape from much-loved Ber­ri­gan char­ac­ter David Wood­ward when he was an­nounced the Ber­ri­gan Shire Cit­i­zen of the Year.

Mr Wood­ward — or as ev­ery­one knows him ‘Woody’ — is a lo­cal car me­chanic who has shown a life-long com­mit­ment to his beloved town.

One of his best known tenures is with Ama­roo Aged Care, with Mr Wood­ward on the board of di­rec­tors for the past 20 years.

He was heav­ily in­volved with build­ing the in­de­pen­dent liv­ing units and Ama­roo ex­ten­sions.

‘‘My un­cle was one of the first res­i­dents,’’ Mr Wood­ward said.

‘‘I went there with some ideas that might help the res­i­dents and said ‘you’ve got these ideas why don’t you im­ple­ment them’. I’ve seen it grow from a seven bed fa­cil­ity to a 32 bed fa­cil­ity.

‘‘Ama­roo is a spe­cial place in my heart be­cause it does a cou­ple of things — it looks af­ter our lo­cal res­i­dents in their vul­ner­a­ble stages, it’s a ma­jor em­ployer which is very im­por­tant in our small com­mu­nity and with what the farm­ers are go­ing through, it has given their wives a bit of work and some­thing to go on with.

‘‘Once upon a time peo­ple had to drive 200 miles to be looked af­ter and now we can look af­ter our own.

‘‘Ama­roo is one of the great­est or­gan­i­sa­tions I’ve ever been in­volved in.’’

Mr Wood­ward’s ac­co­lades don’t just stop with Ama­roo.

He’s also has been a cub scout leader, a Li­ons mem­ber, has spent the last three years as Ber­ri­gan RSL wel­fare of­fi­cer and joined the Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice in 1990.

‘‘I love the RSL be­cause we spon­sor kids to go overseas to pre­serve our na­tional her­itage,’’ he said.

‘‘The lat­est group I’ve been with is the Com­mu­nity Club and it’s been great with the out­side work, mak­ing our golf and bowl greens as good as we pos­si­bly can.

‘‘A lot of the or­gan­i­sa­tions are suf­fer­ing from one thing — they’re get­ting older and un­able to do some of the tasks.

‘‘I think they ap­pre­ci­ate some­one just be­ing able to drop the task off the list and know­ing it will be done.

‘‘I’d en­cour­age any­one in the com­mu­nity to take on var­i­ous roles. I find at a lot of the work­ing bee peo­ple are wor­ried about how they fit in.

‘‘Work­ing bees take all skill sets; it’s amaz­ing what skills you can find when you start work­ing as a team.’’

The 56 year-old said he was hum­bled to win the Ber­ri­gan Shire Cit­i­zen of the Year.

‘‘This award is the great­est hon­our you can re­ceive in your lo­cal com­mu­nity and it’s an ac­co­lade you should wear with your heart,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t want any awards. It’s nice to be recog­nised but this is for the Ber­ri­gan com­mu­nity.

‘‘Com­mu­nity only works with the in­volve­ment of all or­gan­i­sa­tions work­ing to­gether for a com­mon goal to make the place we live in the best it can be.

‘‘In the trou­bled times we have with lack of water and drought, all those ter­ri­ble things that go on, the thing that can give you the great­est re­ward is a lit­tle bit of preser­va­tion of peo­ple.’’

Mr Wood­ward and his wife Maria live in Jer­ilderie and Mr Wood­ward runs his Ber­ri­gan busi­ness ‘Woody Mo­tors’.

‘‘That’s where my wife is so im­por­tant be­cause she has to live without me for a lot of the time as I’m in­volved with a lot of com­mit­tees,’’ he said.

‘‘You can’t do it on your own; you must have that sup­port.

‘‘Maria does more than I do, I’m just the front man. She does the back­ground work.’’

Mr Wood­ward ded­i­cated the award to his par­ents, Bernie and Jean, who he de­scribed as ‘‘towns­peo­ple who de­voted their time to the com­mu­nity’’.

(From left) Carol Cot­tam, Anne and Bruce Hardie, Mar­garet Arnold, David Wood­ward, Graeme Arnold, Maria Wood­ward, Di Pol­lard, Joe Cot­tam and Roy Pol­lard.

Tocumwal Li­ons mem­bers (from left) Kate Fol­liard, Carol Wigam, Sandra Wil­liams, Helen Beer, Gayle Bourke, Ch­eryl Townsend and Len Soule.

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