Desmond Earle Collison’s lifelong contribution to the Upper Hunter Shire ensured he was a worthy 2021 Citizen of the Year today.
The man known as Uncle Des humbly received the award during an Australia Day ceremony at council’s Scone premises in Liverpool Street.
Since his teenage years, Mr Collison has been a volunteer with many community organisations including Rouchel, Gundy, Aberdeen and Wingen Bushman’s Carnivals, Scone Legacy Group, Scone Community Amateur Dramatic Society (SCADS), Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo (Hunter Zone), Omadale Brook Bushfire Brigade, Upper Hunter Sports Club at Moonan Flat, founding member of Moonan Mummers and vice-president of Barrington Gloucester Amateur Fishing Club where his efforts consist of restocking fish into the Barrington Tops streams.
He’s also broadcasted and emceed the Scone Horse Festival Parade for 27 years (missing only 2018, when he was riding in the parade as Festival VIP), as well as Scone Relay for Life, Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza, King of the Ranges Stockman’s Challenge, Australian Stock Horse Shows, Australian Campdraft Championships and the opening of the Moonan Flat War Memorial Honour Roll and ‘Back to Moonan Flat’ celebrations in 2004.
He assists many other community events with PA set ups, such as the Scone Anzac Day service.
Mr Collison has contributed his skills as an electrician and tradesman working on community facilities, too, rewiring, building or fencing for Moonan Flat Sports Ground and Soldier’s Memorial Hall, Belmadar Park, Gundy Tennis Court and the Campdrafters and Roughriders Memorial at Scone.
Schools have benefited from his assistance including emceeing events, lawn mowing and taking part in working bees over many years.
Upon his recent retirement, Mr Collison has amazingly increased his volunteer activities.
An enduring resident of the shire from the Moonan area, Omadale Brook and more recently Scone, he is much-loved for his community spirit and good humour.
Meanwhile, Connor Sullivan picked up the Upper Hunter Shire Young Citizen of the Year award.
The 12-year-old is a committed member of the Aberdeen Care Package Cadets, a group which prepares “care packages” of food items and donated goods for 230 deployed Australian soldiers.
Every box that is packed contains up to 10 items, making it a mammoth task.
Connor has rarely missed a Tuesday meeting since he joined the Aberdeen Care Package Cadets two years ago and thoroughly enjoys volunteering his time.
He did a “call-out” to the Aberdeen community for help and gathered more than enough items.
Connor is a kind and caring young person, very community minded, hard-working member of the group and a great role model for young and old.
Music, barbecues, citizenship oaths, stories and splashing around at the pools also marked Australia Day 2021 in the Upper Hunter.
The Aberdeen and Scone function, which included the presentation of the overall Citizen and Young Citizen awards, as well as the citizenship service, was invitation-only due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Australia Day Ambassadors Paralympian David Hall OAM (Scone) and country music star Gina Jeffreys (Merriwa), patron of the Australian Leukaemia Foundation and founder of the charity event Walk of Life, shared their inspiring stories.
Murrurundi continued its traditional parade and cricket match at Wilson Memorial Oval.
Aberdeen District awards
Citizen of the Year – Carol Bowen
Young Citizen of the Year – Connor Sullivan
Young Achiever of the Year – Vanessa Hill
Community Group of the Year – Aberdeen Lions Club
Special Awards for Outstanding Sportsmanship – Aberdeen U14s Junior Rugby League ladies tag
Merriwa District awards
Citizen of the Year – Patricia Kirkby
Young Citizen of the Year – Harrison Amidy
Achiever of the Year – Chris Mitchell
Young Achiever of the Year – Abby Cooper
Sustainability in Business – Sutton’s Livestock
Environmental Achievement – John and Carol Richard
Community Group of the Year – Merriwa Rural Fire Service (RFS)
Murrurundi District awards
Citizen of the Year – Dinah Norton
Young Citizen of the Year – Ahmad Challack
Achiever of the Year – Christine Betts and Rosey King
Young Achiever of the Year – Gypsy-Rose Whitby
Community Group of the Year – Murrurundi Meals on Wheels
Scone District awards
Hunter McLoughlin Citizen of the Year – Desmond Collison
Young Citizen of the Year – Indianna Welsh
Achiever of the Year – Carol Ray
Young Achiever of the Year – Dylan Denle
Outstanding Community Work – Ebony Laithwaite
Outstanding Sporting Achievement – Nicky Western
(Winners of the school achievement and creative arts excellence awards each receive a $1,000 cheque from council to go towards tertiary study in their chosen category)
School Achievement awards
Matthew Pinkerton (St Joseph’s High School)
Olivia McLean (Merriwa Central School)
Ruby Wong (Scone Grammar School)
Lara Dawson (Scone High School)
Creative Arts Excellence awards
Lucy McGrath (Scone High School)
Liana Byfield (Merriwa Central School)
Kira Dixon (St Joseph’s High School)