Deniliuqin IGA co-owner Rob Hallum was a much celebrated choice for Deniliquin's Citizen of the Year award.By Zoe McMaugh
It is Deniliquin business owner Robert Hallum’s dedication to the community that earned him the prestigious Deniliquin Citizen of the Year award on Australia Day.
Mr Hallum was one of three people nominated for the honour, with Paul Hussey and Sue McMillan the other nominees.
In accepting his award, Mr Hallum, who is a co-owner of Deniliquin’s Central IGA supermarket and Josh’s Bakehouse, said he could not give back to the community at the level he does without the support of many other people.
‘‘It’s a bit of an honour,’’ he said at Saturday’s presentation ceremony at Deniliquin’s Waring Gardens.
‘‘I was up against some tough competition.
‘‘I need to thank my wife who puts up with me not being at home and out doing something for nothing.
‘‘I also need to thank my staff who put up with me not being at work and out doing something for nothing.
‘‘I am also fortunate enough to have a number of other people in this community to fall back on.’’
Deniliquin Council Australia Day ambassador Ron Delezio and Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick presented Mr Hallum with his award in front of what is being labelled as one of the biggest ever local Australia Day crowds.
Many people rushed to congratulate Mr Hallum, who proved a popular recipient, after the ceremony.
Through his two businesses, which employ a combined 82 people, he has donated more than $1 million back into the community.
Each year he sponsors most of the sporting organisations, the mayor’s annual Christmas street party and the Deniliquin rodeo.
He also offers financial support to a number of other organisations in need of assistance.
Mr Hallum has also donated thousands of dollars to the Deniliquin Volunteer Rescue Association, Rural Fire Service and Deniliquin NSW Fire and Rescue to help purchase much needed equipment.
Over the past two years he has donated thousands of dollars to the local Murray-Darling Basin Plan fighting fund.
He has also contributed case studies about the effect the plan would have on his businesses in Deniliquin and Jerilderie for the Murray Group of Concerned Communities.
Mr Hallum has sponsored the Deniliquin Ute Muster since its inception and in the past two years has donated more than 1000 hours of his own time and money, and use of his own equipment, to the annual event.
His nominators also highlighted his involvement in charity organisations like the Deniliquin Charity Community Ball.
‘‘He has sponsored the former Guys and Dolls which raised more than $30,000 each year, which benefited the community,’’ the nomination form read.
‘‘He recently became a member of the Deniliquin Charity Ball Committee, which raises funds for seriously ill people in Deniliquin.
‘‘He made a significant donation to the inaugural ball held in 2012, which had benefited six families in Deniliquin who have family members suffering from cancer and a young child needing a kidney transplant.’’
Mr Hallum’s philosophy of ‘supporting our community’ resonated with his nominators and the award’s judges.
They welcomed his belief that if ‘‘we can help maintain a strong community’’, the benefits will flow on to the businesses.
Nominators also described Mr Hallum as ‘‘a very kind, generous and thoughtful member of our community’’.
Saturday’s crowd also heard from Mr Delezio.
Families sat and listened in awe as the Australia Day ambassador and aspiring politician spoke of his father’s migration from Malta and the battle his family went through when daughter Sophie was horrifically injured in two separate car crashes.
When aged two, a car crashed into Sophie’s Sydney day care centre, and Mr Delezio revealed he was told to prepare for a scene from a war zone.
Then, while being pushed in a wheelchair some years later, Sophie was again hit by a car.
Both times, the young girl, who is now 12, had to fight for her life.
Mr Delezio said it was the strength of his father and his daughter that made him realise the true value of living in Australia.
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