John Scarvelis named citizen of the year at Murray Bridge's Australia Day awards

The former nursery manager and Rotarian heads a list of deserving locals recognised at Sturt Reserve on January 26, 2021.

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Former nursery manager and Rotarian John Scarvelis has been named Murray Bridge’s citizen of the year for 2021.

Mr Scarvelis was one of four invididuals singled out for special recognition at an Australia Day celebration held beneath the gum trees at the city’s wharf on Tuesday morning.

Sallee Shepherd was named young citizen of the year, Lauren Salter volunteer of the year and Morgan Coull the sports person of the year, alongside a community event of the year award which was split between two recipients.

Citizen of the year has made Murray Bridge more welcoming

Mr Scarvelis became manager of nursery operations for the former South Australian Woods and Forests Department in 1978.

From a base in Murray Bridge, he oversaw statewide efforts to promote native plants to gardeners and horticulturalists, including by developing commercial methods of production.

Since joining the Rotary Club of Murray Bridge in 1985, he has held a variety of roles, served as its president in 2006-07, and led dozens of community projects and initiatives, including Rotary Assisting Local Youth.

He has also been involved with the Australians Aiding Children Adoption Agency, the Murraylands Multicultural Network and numerous other community groups and sporting clubs.

He urged those present to learn from and respect each other, and to work together to better the community.

“To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t need to be brilliant, rich, perfect or beautiful; you just need to … care,” he said.

“Our future is in good citizenship: a community which helps the weaker become stronger.”

Mayor Brenton Lewis said Mr Scarvelis had made a “significant, sustained and ongoing” contribution to the community.

“He has dedicated a lifetime to taking an interest in his community, engaging with others and finding ways to contribute and create initiatives that provide opportunities that enrich the lives of others,” he said.

“That’s a life well lived, and should serve as an inspiration to us all about what we can achieve when we put our minds to it.”

Sallee Shepherd adds one more award to her CV

Recent Young Achiever Award winner Sallee Shepherd was named Murray Bridge’s young citizen of the year for her drive to achieve good things for young people in the Murraylands.

Between her studies, part-time work, sport and occasionally running her own cupcake business, Sallee has served as mayor of Murray Bridge’s youth council and advocated for suicide prevention in the Coorong district.

She has also represented her school, Unity College, at a constitutional convention in Adelaide; undertaken a service trip to Indonesia; acted as a junior ambassador for her district during the Tour Down Under; and was a driving force behind the creation of the sculptures at Tailem Bend themed after the Mem Fox book Where is the Green Sheep?

“A platform for youth is something a lot of communities don’t get,” she said.

“Supporting youth, backing youth, listening to everything we want and have to say is extremely exciting.

“(Murray Bridge) is really paving the way for other regions, and it’s something to be commended.”

She thanked her family and everyone involved in the youth council for their support.

Callington contributor named volunteer of the year

Hard-working organiser Lauren Salter was named volunteer of the year for her generosity towards almost every organisation in Callington.

Her contributions have been most visible at Halloween in recent years.

Each year she sets up a meeting place and a route, provides maps, organises food and prizes, then walks with local children as they go trick-or-treating around the town; and also organises a Halloween disco which benefits a worthy local recipient each year.

She commissioned a mural which was painted at Callington Primary School last year and, with her husband Todd, set up a nature garden at the school.

She has led fundraising efforts which have netted tens of thousands of dollars for local families impacted by tragedy, and helped raise more than $15,000 for the new community building being constructed at Callington Recreation Park.

In case that wasn’t enough, she has served on committees for the park, the school and Callington Hall; served beers at the local cricket club; given her time at working bees; and donated the proceeds of her artistic output to charity.

Ms Salter thanked the volunteers who had worked with her at every stop.

Marathon efforts earn recognition for Morgan Coull

Murraylands Multisports event director Morgan Coull was named sports person of the year for the enormous work he put into launching several prominent events in the Murray Bridge district – all on a not-for-profit basis.

Between the Murray Bridge Fun Run, Federation Ultra Trail run, Rockleigh 105 off-road cycling race and Murray Bridge Marathon, his efforts have given athletes of all ages and abilities opportunities to participate in healthy, affordable events.

He designs and maps event courses, handles promotion and participant registration and coordinates each event on the day.

Mr Coull, a paramedic by day, is no stranger to pushing the barriers of human endurance himself, as he proved on a Bear Grylls TV show last year.

“Last year was probably one of my hardest years, working through COVID, trying to put on all these events for people,” he said.

“One of the greatest achievements for me personally (has been) to give something to the community.”

He thanked the “amazing” people around him, including his family and the Murraylands Multisports committee.

Brenton Lewis and Analise Gates present an award to the River Murray Football League’s Mary-Lou Griffiths and Terry Connolly. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Footy finals series, marathon named events of the year

The judges could not split two of the Murray Bridge district’s biggest events for 2020, so they decided to recognise both as the best of the year.

The River Murray Football League had to jump through all sorts of hoops to ensure its finals series could go ahead last year, leading all matches to be played at Johnstone Park and the proceeds to be split evenly between all seven of the league's member clubs.

Jervois’ memorable wins in three grades on grand final day would not have been possible without a switch to online ticketing and meticulous planning behind the scenes.

“The RMFL clearly understood how important it was for the youth of our community to play football in 2020,” former president Terry Connolly said.

“In addition to providing a physically and mentally healthy outlet for our participants, the competition also offers a great social connection for families and is part of the cultural fabric of country communities.

“Our vision, strengthening country communities through football, was never more evident than it was in 2020.”

Murray Bridge Marathon was also recognised after attracting more than 400 participants in only its second year, despite the limitations of COVID-19.

New citizens welcomed to Australia

Murray Bridge’s youngest new citizen, Ivy Nguyen, nearly stole the show in the end, playing with a flag and waving to the crowd.

She was one of 18 people who took their oaths of citizenship, having settled in Murray Bridge from as far away as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Fiji, the Phillippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Remote-area vet and Australia Day ambassador Robert Irving gave a short address on the significance of the day, while MPs Tony Pasin and Adrian Pederick also made remarks.

The entire ceremony was broadcast online by River Murray Football League Media.