Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Heathcote residents honoured

McIvor Community Citizen of the Year Grant Baker and Young Citizen of the Year Melanie Whitehead were honoured on Australia Day.

January 30, 2013 4:11am

Melanie Whitehead, Cr Helen Leach and McIvor Community Citizen of the Year Grant Baker.

Australia Day celebrations across the district kicked off the long weekend on Saturday and there was plenty to do for all ages.

In Heathcote, the community gathered to see McIvor Community Citizen of the Year Grant Baker and Young Citizen of the Year Melanie Whitehead receive their awards from City of Greater Bendigo councillor Helen Leach.

Mr Baker said he was humbled to receive the award, and delighted to see Miss Whitehead win the Young Citizen of the Year award.

‘‘I think it’s wonderful that a young girl is receiving the award,’’ Mr Baker said.

‘‘I think her parents will be very proud and justly so.’’

Mr Baker said he felt fortunate to be part of the Heathcote community.

‘‘I think our sporting facilities in Heathcote are second to none and I don’t think you could drive though many country towns along the highway and see this magnificent sporting complex we’ve got, with the swimming pool, cricket, football, indoor netball, basketball, bowling club, tennis club all in the one block of land, which is absolutely marvellous really and we should all appreciate what we’ve got in the town,’’ he said.

Mr Baker said Heathcote was one of central Victoria’s best located towns with essential services such as the fire brigade, police, hospital, SES and ambulance that many other country towns lacked.

‘‘The Lions Club plays an important role in Heathcote — their foresight and innovation in establishing the Lions units (in High St) was a wonderful achievement for our elderly folk to live in comfort and safety,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m a passionate Heathcote person, been here all my life, and I’ve got a block of land up the back there where I’ll finally make my place, so all in all we are a fortunate people and as life goes on I hope we all enjoy good health and the facilities we’ve got here in Heathcote.’’

Mr Baker, a passionate member of the Heathcote Cricket Club committee, said one of the few disappointments in life he had faced was the cessation of the cricket club several years ago.

‘‘I suppose the demise of the cricket club a few years ago was a shattering blow for me, but then through the hard work of Ron and Dianne Sheppard, and Neville Gilmore, the club has been rebirthed and I thank the young men of Heathcote who have now got a team and are out here playing cricket — it’s wonderful to see,’’ he said.

Melanie Whitehead said she felt honoured to receive the McIvor Community Young Citizen of the Year award.

‘‘In late November 2011, I travelled to Laos, Cambodia, with a group from my school to volunteer at an orphanage,’’ she said.

‘‘Before we could leave, a part of our trip was to fundraise the $6000 needed to go, and that huge support from the Heathcote community and many other generous donations allowed it to be possible.’’

Miss Whitehead said the students’ task was to build a new brick fence around the property line for an orphanage of about 70 children aged from one to 18 years old who either had no parents or whose parents could not afford to raise them.

‘‘It was all hard work, but at the end of the day it was all worth it and we got to play with the 70 children and brighten up their day,’’ she said.

‘‘The most surprising thing for me was that these kids have no family and nothing, but they were so happy.

‘‘It left me thinking about how lucky I am and how grateful I am for my life and my family at home — it definitely made me a more grateful person.’’

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