Shade was at a premium at Avon Park in York for this year’s Australia Day celebrations.

Conditions warmed up early for the crowd that turned out for breakfast, music and singing, citizenship ceremony, award presentations and children’s games. MC for the event was Cr Tony Boyle.

Volunteers served more than 400 breakfasts organized by the Shire with numerous donations of products and services by local businesses.

In his Australia Day message, Shire president, Pat Hooper, said that communities should draw on local resourcefulness to survive the economic downturn. Previous generations faced global wars and survived the great depression. “I suspect they would talk about the strength of the communities they lived in ... they would talk about sharing what little there was ... they would talk about helping not only their neighbour but their neighbour’s neighbour,” he said.

Cr Hooper told the audience not to categorize people but to consider them as individuals. He urged them to volunteer and contribute to a positive outcome for the community. “Volunteer without being asked and strengthen our community,” he said.

Following his address, Cr Hooper along with guest of honour, Hon Brendan Grylls, conducted an Australian citizenship ceremony and went on to present the Citizen of the Year awards.  Kay Lebedinsky, Amanda Martin, Wendy Penno and Keith Richardson became Australian citizens.

The 2009 Citizen of the Year was Peter Reynolds in recognition for 34 years of service to the York Fire and Rescue service including seven years as captain. He also plays an active role in the education of the York Cadets in fire safety.

Junior Citizen of the Year was Brett Jenkinson for his various school leadership roles including head boy along with his extensive volunteer work in the community.

Megan Britza was named Sport Star of the Year. She was nominated by the Avon Valley Therapeutic Riding Centre. Megan’s numerous achievements included winning the Australian 3B dressage championship. Her skill has lead to an invitation to the World Games in Kentucky, USA, in 2010.

Junior Sport Star was Aaron Smith who has been playing bowls for five years and won the 2008 State Junior Country Singles championship. He was also a member of the winning State Champion Junior Fours.

The York and Districts Community Bank branch of Bendigo Bank sport star awards were presented by board chairman, Lindsay McNeill.  The bank provides medals to the winners and $500 each to the clubs that nominated them.