June 6, 2019
by Dafyd Martindale
Heritage Nanango Community Branch (HNCF) will be putting $250,000 directly into the hands of community groups this year.
Last week, representatives from 21 not-for-profit groups packed into Nanango’s former Masonic Lodge in Gipps Street for the announcement of this year’s Heritage Bank Nanango community grants winners.
They left with cash grants and an assurance that a roughly equal amount will be going into other community projects HNCF is assisting.
In recent years, two of these bigger projects have included getting a state-of-the-art CCTV system installed in Nanango’s CBD; and building Heritage Lodge, an ongoing project to construct a disabled care complex in Nanango in partnership with South Burnett CTC, the Council and the State Government.
This year, Heritage added to this roster by signposting “The Link” to connect the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail to the South Burnett Rail Trail.
This has created a 305km trail from Wulkuraka to Kilkivan that is already funnelling a steady stream of rail trail tourists into Nanango, with the promise of more to come in the years ahead.
HNCF has also committed to matching community fundraising efforts for Nanango’s Butter Factory Park inclusive playground; and this year they also refurbished the Masonic Lodge in Gipps Street to help preserve one of Queensland’s unique historic buildings.
Heritage also sponsored last year’s Christmas Carnival, the first held in Nanango in nearly a decade; provided funding for the annual Halloween celebrations in Little Drayton Street and the Zombie Walk along Tipperary Flat; and ensured the road approaches to all the town’s schools were painted to warn drivers they are entering a school zone and need to slow down.
HNCF will continue to fund an annual defensive driving course for Nanango State High School’s senior students to ensure they’ll be safe drivers before they graduate.
And it will continue to ensure the profits the “Big Four” banks once took out of the district remain in the community.
HNCF chairman Wendy Zerbst congratulated the groups who’d successfully applied for grants in this year’s funding round and reminded them that in addition to the funds they received, HNCF was also actively involved in assisting the community year-round.
Right now, Wendy said, the Masonic Lodge is back to good shape and is available to any community group who’d like to use it for a minimal cost, providing its historic character is preserved and the contents of the Lodge are protected.
Heritage Bank’s Nanango branch is a partnership between Toowoomba’s Heritage Bank and the Nanango community, and HNCF splits the branch’s annual profits with Heritage Bank and reinvests its share back into the community.
The branch was founded in 2001 in response to the withdrawal of services from the town by the “Big Four” banks.
In the past 18 years, it has purchased its own premises; repaid all the initial investors who put up the funds to get the branch established; and created new, permanent jobs to replace some of those lost when the big banks left the town.
It has also injected several million dollars directly back into the communities that support the branch through sponsorship of community organisations, schools, sporting clubs, events, building projects and restorations.
In recent years – with most not-for-profit groups now upgraded to modern equipment and amenities – the branch’s focus has shifted towards “big picture” projects which spread benefits to the wider community.
But Wendy said a key focus of the annual Community Grants was to ensure that community groups could continue to operate at their best.
This year’s grant recipients are: