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Ex-mayor Brenton Lewis named Murray Bridge’s citizen of the year
Young leader Gamze Bakan, Rockleigh’s Barbara Pym and the Murraylands Fair have also received awards on Australia Day 2023.
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A former mayor of Murray Bridge has been honoured for his transformational leadership on Australia Day 2023.
Brenton Lewis was named the city’s citizen of the year at Edwards Square on Thursday morning, adding to the accolades he received on his retirement last year.
His 2014 election slogan – “proud, safe, progressive” – became a mantra which guided Murray Bridge through an eight-year period of change for the better.
He oversaw the redevelopment of prominent public spaces such as Adelaide Road and Sturt Reserve; the launch of the Make It Yours campaign to encourage new residents; and championed local business, multiculturalism and community safety.
Mr Lewis thanked everyone who had helped him and the council achieve “a hell of a lot” during his two terms in office.
He was now enjoying retirement with his wife Kathy, he said – “one day a rooster, the next day a feather duster”.
There were three other nominees for the award:
Annette Korzeba, for her dedication to community safety and campaigning against domestic violence
Bronwyn Heard, for her community service through local service clubs
Peri Strathearn, author of this post, for his commitment to local news
Mayor Wayne Thorley said had been delighted to see a range of deserving candidates nominated for each of four Australia Day awards this year.
“I felt extremely proud to be able to present these awards,” he said.
“We are very lucky to live where we do, and even luckier to know that we have people like this in our communities serving as inspiration and building a brighter future for us all.”
Scroll down to find out more about the other winners.
High-achieving student named young citizen of the year
Outgoing Murray Bridge High School prefect Gamze Bakan was named the district’s young citizen of the year for her leadership and academic achievement.
Her involvement in the Murray Bridge Youth Action Committee has allowed her to serve as a voice for local young people.
She was also recognised with multiple end-of-year awards at her school in 2022, including the Long Tan Leadership and Teamwork Award, plus subject awards for English, biology and business innovation.
She thanked the friends, family members and teachers who had supported her, including youth council members Charli Austin and Sally Shepherd – “they did most of the work, to be honest”.
Rockleigh stalwart recognised with citizenship award
A leader of the Rockleigh community received an active citizenship award for driving several hugely important initiatives in the rural community.
She has been closely involved with the area’s two biggest annual events for many years: the award-winning neighbour muster, which she helped establish, and the Carols in the Bush, which she spent more than 30 years coordinating for the Uniting Church.
She also helped the local Country Fire Service Brigade get started and remains an active member of the Rockleigh CFS Support Group.
“It has been fun working for my community and making it good for everyone to live in,” she said.
She thanked everyone who had worked with her over the years – “you’re a great mob”.
Murraylands Fair is the local event of the year
Analise and Nathan Gates, of Murray Bridge company AOK Events, were honoured for the work they put into the district’s event of the year for 2023: the Murraylands Fair.
Over the past seven years, the fair has helped about 250 local makers, bakers and craftspeople promote themselves and their wares.
It has also raised more than $20,000 for local charities through gold coin donations taken at the gate at each event.
“Murraylands Fair was born out of a need to support our local community,” Mrs Gates said.
“We don’t have a committee, we don’t have a wealth of volunteers; we’re simply a mum, a dad and two wonderful kids who are giving back to our community.”
The next fair will be held at Pine Park on March 12.
Disclosure: As mentioned above, the author was a nominee for the citizen of the year award. It was very kind of someone to nominate him among such illustrious company.