January 26, 2014

As well as the main Australia Day Awards, the South Burnett Regional Council also presents Local Achiever Awards to outstanding citizens in each of the region’s major towns and villages, as well as an award for a citizen who lives in a rural part of the Shire.

In 2014, the Local Achiever Award nominees were:


Grant Geddes

Grant is a Murgon SES Support Group volunteer and was instrumental in the design and innovation of the Personal Assistant Lighting System (PALS).

He has raised more than $450,000 for local community groups and wants to ensure that the South Burnett is better prepared for any future disaster events.

He organised the “SES Week Trek” from Murgon to Brisbane which stopped at each town along the way to hand out Disaster Ready kits, put on a free BBQ and inform the community about how to be better prepared. He is also involved in St John Ambulance, ensuring local young people have the invaluable life skill of first aid training.

Terry Lear collected the Australia Day Certificate on behalf on Murgon BlazeAid

Murgon BlazeAid Camp

Out of the ashes of the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria, a wonderful volunteer organisation called BlazeAid emerged.

During 2013 they again came to help – but this time it was mud from the severe flooding that impacted many South Burnett farmers and communities.

More than 185 volunteers formed the Murgon BlazeAid Camp over a four month period, organising the clean up and restoration to over 85 farms, clearing and repairing many hundreds of kilometres of fencing and restoring hope for those who lost so much.

Richard O’Neill

Richard has a lifetime of involvement supporting the Murgon area, with a strong passion for supporting the agricultural industry.

He has devoted many years to the Murgon Show Society and the Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Societies operations.

He has served in the roles of chief steward, junior and senior vice-president, and treasurer; has represented Queensland at the Sydney Royal Show, and the South Burnett on the Board of the Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Societies. He is currently a representative and secretary of the Showgirl Awards Committee.

He is equally committed to many other community organisations such as fundraising for the Murgon Ambulance Committee and representing the Wide Bay on the Queensland Local Ambulance Committee Advisory Board.

He was also a former Murgon Shire Councillor and is a regular volunteer at the Murgon Information Centre and Queensland Dairy and Heritage Museum.

He also helped establish “Murgon Moments” as well as the Rural Road Numbering system in Queensland, and has also served on Murgon’s Anzac Day committee.


Neil Burrows

Neil has been a member of the Wondai RSL Sub-Branch for over 30 years helping veterans, servicemen and women and the widows of veterans.

Often the first point of contact for veterans and others, he has supported the RSL through roles such as President of the Wondai Sub-Branch, President of the Wide Bay Burnett District RSL and Director on the State Board of the Queensland RSL for the past three years.

In 2013 he was awarded the highest RSL award, the Meritorious Service Medal. But he is also proud of his home town Wondai, and wherever he travels in his RSL role he unashamedly promotes Wondai and the South Burnett.


Robin Kersten

Robin has been involved in the Proston Lions Club over a number of years and has held the position of secretary for the last four years.

She helps organise the Proston Lions Christmas Fair and is a dedicated Meals on Wheels volunteer. She also willingly helps wherever there is a need in the community, whether selling raffle tickets, catering for community functions or just helping.


Morris Winter

Morris has been involved in Neighbourhood Watch for the past 20 years in both Kingaroy and Kumbia and has been the main driving force behind the Kumbia’s Rural Watch Group.

He also chairs the South Burnett Neighbourhood Watch Cluster group and is the President of the Kingaroy Community Police Consultative Committee, which also includes the Kumbia area. He has a strong commitment to ensuring the Rural Watch Group retains its support and relevance.


Merv Wolski

Merv has served as the President of the Kingaroy Senior Citizens Club for over five years, and under his leadership the club has gone from strength to strength.

He has kept Senior Citizens Club members in Kingaroy active throughout the year with lots of activities and bus trips. He’s now looking at retiring but because of his commitment to the Senior Citizens, he is not prepared to leave this position as President until a replacement can be found.


Sheila Kemp ... nominated as a Local Achiever for her work to beautify Nanango Cemetery

Sheila Kemp

Sheila could be mistaken for being Nanango’s leading figure in its own version of “War of the Roses”.

She helped her community raise hundreds of dollars over several years to establish a Memorial Rose Garden next to the infant graves at the Nanango Cemetery.

Nothing prepared her for what came next, though: a heartless, shameless and thoughtless act by thieves, robbing the community and the infants of the rose plants. Not one to be beaten, though, she began Round 2 of the fundraising and sufficient money has again been raised to replant the garden when the cooler weather arrives.

Kay Bochmann

Kay Bochmann has selflessly served the Nanango community for many years in the face of multiple adversities. Her unapologetic faith in God and belief that his strength carries her physical weaknesses – the leftovers from a battle with lymphedema in 2004. But she has not let this challenge prevent her from giving back to her community.

Despite losing some of her independence and often spending months confined to a wheelchair, she has managed to volunteer over 180 hours of her time to organise and deliver the Nanango Combined Churches Christmas Tree Festivals; made hundreds of wedding gowns, ball gowns and formal dresses for women in the community; maintained an active membership of the Nanango Lutheran Church; and functioned as the church’s representative on the Nanango Ministers Fraternal, the Nanango Chaplaincy Committee and RE Coordinator for the Nanango State School.


Richard Don

Richard joined the Maidenwell Rural Fire Brigade in November 2004 and was voted in as Chairperson soon afterwards. He has held the position of First Officer since 2011 and is the first to respond to any call.

If an emergency arises when he is away from Maidenwell, he happily organises a response crew via his mobile. He has organised successful grant submissions resulting in extra equipment being available, and is an inspirational role model for the Maidenwell community.

He was awarded the 2010/2011 Queensland Flood & Cyclone Citation from the Queensland Government for his volunteer work during the 2011 floods, and the three fire trucks and the Maidenwell Fire Shed are a testament to his devotion.


Les Lane

Les has been an active fire fighter in the Taromeo Rural Fire Brigade for the past 10 years. Blackbutt and Benarkin are the better for his active involvement over several years in the Bloomin’ Beautiful Blackbutt Festival organising committee. Les is always willing to give up his free time to participate and help whenever he is needed, be it the Lions Club, RSL or any community group or individual.

Rural Areas

Lynne Bennett

Since 1981, the Boondooma Homestead and their highly successful events “Spirit of the Bush Balladeers and Heritage Muster” and “Scots in the Bush” have been the better for Lynne’s involvement.

These two festivals and the historic Boondooma Homestead attract thousands of visitors each year, and her volunteer office administration, bookkeeping, stock ordering, catering oversight and general management skills have contributed significantly to the Homestead’s growing profile.

Lynne is also a competent musician and entertainer who performs regularly for visitors during their stay at Boondooma Homestead, and is known for never missing an opportunity to mention the South Burnett’s local points of interest, with the intent of keeping visitors longer in region.

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