No one would have envied the task of the judges when deciding the 2021 Singleton Citizen of the Year.
In fact, all five nominees deserved the title.
But, in the end, it was long-time NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) volunteer Fred Turner who claimed the honour during a live-streamed Australia Day ceremony on Tuesday 26 January.
A NSW RFS stalwart for more than four decades, he edged out an elite field consisting of Jan Fallding, Wendy Lawson, Kenneth Mackett and Kay Sullivan.
Mr Turner received the distinction in recognition of his role with the RFS as group officer Hunter Valley, as well as his work with a range of organisations including Singleton Legacy Group, the Australian Infantry Museum, Singleton Lions Club and Singleton RSL Sub-Branch.
The announcement was made during the official COVID-safe function at Singleton Civic Centre this morning.
Six new Australians were also welcomed in the Citizenship Ceremony, while Charles Croucher presented the Australia Day Guest address.
Mr Croucher is a Channel 9 reporter and a former North American correspondent, covering everything from natural disasters, the Oscars red carpet and Super Bowls to the impeachment of former US President Donald Trump.
Now based in Sydney, he has a strong family connection to Singleton.
Singleton mayor Sue Moore said although the celebration was a little different this year, it was great to see many people tuning in for the livestream of the ceremony to recognise the people who make the community special.
“Australia Day is a terrific occasion to come together to celebrate what we all have in common as Australians, and to recognise the privileges and freedoms that come with Australian citizenship,” she explained.
“It’s a very significant occasion for the six people from all over the world – India, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the UK – who chose to become Australians in Singleton.
“I was honoured to be part of it.”
She also paid tribute to the five outstanding nominees for the Citizen of the Year.
“Australia Day has become a tradition to recognise those Australians among us who go a little bit further to make our community great,” Cr Moore said.
“It’s one of the most humbling parts of my role as mayor to present the Citizen of the Year award.
“I sincerely congratulate Fred Turner on this prestigious honour, and thank our other four nominees – Jan Fallding, Wendy Lawson, Kenneth Mackett and Kay Sullivan – for all you do for our community.”
At neighbouring Muswellbrook Shire, aged care pioneer David Roe collected the 2021 Muswellbrook Citizen of the Year plaudit.
He was recognised during a special ceremony at the Denman Memorial Hall on Monday 25 January.
Teenage NSW RFS volunteer and gifted sportsman Hunter Ball collected Young Citizen of the Year.
Muswellbrook District Hospital’s Wendy Hordern was also acknowledged for her services to local health, while Two Rivers Wines duo Linda and Brett Keeping were honoured for their efforts relating to viticulture and tourism.
“Congratulations to all the Australia Day award recipients,” Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush said.