January 26, 2014

The South Burnett Citizen Of The Year Australia Day Award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the region.

In 2014, the Award nominees were:

Marion Otto

The keys to Marion’s nomination for Citizen of the Year are played through her outstanding sacrifice, the voluntarily sharing of her gift and love of music across the stages, theatres, eisteddfods, Musical Comedy Society performances and choirs of the South Burnett.

In 1990 Marion commenced a music program for the Coolabunia, Crawford and Memerambi State schools and continued to do so until 1996, when she became a music specialist employed by Education Queensland.

Juggling her own private music studio and tutoring of maths and English students, Marion is widely recognised as a major contributor to the success of South Burnett Musical Comedy Society’s shows. Without her help, the Society would have experienced great difficulty in putting on their shows.

Marion also volunteers her time as a pianist for the Blackbutt Singers, travelling extensively, identifying and helping latent talents in the young and not so young, such as working alongside Jan Pritchard help men reach their musical potential.

Marion is an enricher of people’s lives in so many ways, and while she’s probably uncomfortable with her contributions being acknowledged in this way, her humility of spirit and ongoing selfless serving deserves public recognition.

John Box – 2014 Winner

South Burnett mayor Wayne Kratzmann, right, presented John Box with the Citizen of the Year award
John Box is a rare find, not just because he is still with the same employer he started with many years ago, but the seamless way in which he contributes to the South Burnett through all aspects of his life.

Unable to serve in community organisations in his younger years due to the amount of time he spent up power poles in storms, John worked out that he could combine shift work, emergency repair duties and community service.

His personal belief is “that it is more of a privilege to serve, than to be served”.

A man’s community service often begins at the time his children reach kindergarten, and regardless of his willingness levels, the roster comes home with his name on it! John’s community service began at that point – mowing, landscaping, repairing and remodelling the kindergarten his children attended. Progressing to committee member and President of St Mary’s Primary School, John worked out he had more to offer than his maintenance talents.

Close to his heart is the Apex Club. After serving Apex until he was “too old” at age 40, he retired after having served several terms as secretary and president and carrying out District Governor responsibilities. With the honour of life membership recognising him for meritorious service to the Association of Apex Clubs and the Kingaroy community tucked under his belt he continued on.

A highlight of his service to Apex was being involved in fund raising and organising the “Nathan Weir Fun Run”. Nathan was a 17-year-old cancer sufferer who shared a similar prognosis as one of his American heroes, Terry Fox, who while battling the disease, undertook a fundraising run across America. Apex helped Nathan achieve his goal, and he was able to complete a 10km run on crutches before he died.

In 2007, John spotted an advertisement that aligned with those values he learnt from Apex to “make service the basis of all enterprise, develop by example a more intelligent and aggressive citizenship and provide the means of forming enduring friendships, rendering altruistic service and building better communities”. Who better could the Kingaroy Local Ambulance Committee have on board than John Box? After three months he was the President and has since then facilitated successful grants and fund raising totalling nearing $100,000.

Some of the other organisations and community service John Box supports:

  • An active JP since 1996
  • Promoted and assisted organise Kingaroy being regularly visited by the mobile blood bank
  • Ergon’s representative on organisation such as Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce and Kingaroy Christmas Carnival
  • Board Member of the South Burnett CTC in 2007
  • Volunteer Board Member and current chair of Community Radio 90.7 – CROW-FM
  • Organised and supervises the supply of Ergon generators and low voltage reticulation to events such as the former Tingoora Community Rock festivals, Wine and Food in the Park, Kingaroy Peanut Festival and its replacement, South Burnett Motors in Motion
  • Represented Ergon and the broader South Burnett community on consultative committees, advisory groups, and funding bodies such as Stanwell’s Tarong Community Partnership Fund

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables