Australia Day means different things to different people, but last Sunday at Narrogin Town Hall, an estimated 200 residents chose to attend the town’s ceremony and celebrate. This year’s Australia Day breakfast started at 7.30am with bacon, eggs and sausages on the menu. The food was donated by local businesses, and cooked and served by volunteers from the Narrogin Rotary and Lions clubs, and Upper Great Southern Hockey Association. At 8.30am, the awards ceremony started, with Narrogin Primary School principal David Harrison the MC for the morning. The 2020 Australia Day Citizen of the Year Awards were presented to this year’s winners by Shire president Leigh Ballard. Mr Ballard said the Shire received seven nominations for this year’s Australia Day citizen awards across three categories. The citizen of the year award was presented to Ann Kulker, a passionate volunteer and swimming and netball devotee. Ms Kulker said she was thrilled to receive the award. “I love what I do and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can,” she said. Senior citizen of the year was awarded to Deborah Hughes-Owen, another community volunteer, with a focus on growing the region’s tourism and arts. Ms Hughes-Owen came to Australia in 1977 on a working holiday, was offered a full-time job and became a resident and citizen before moving to Narrogin in 1992. She said when she was notified of her nomination for the award, she had what could only be described as an “Oscar moment”. “I want to congratulate my fellow nominees; you’re all more than worthy of receiving this award and it seems unfair that only my name will be recorded for prosperity,” she said. The group or event active citizenship gong was awarded to Sarah Brindley for the Narrogin Blanket Distribution Project. The project involved Great Southern Towing and the distribution of 10,000 bales of 30 blankets across Australia to assist charitable organisations. Adding to the celebrations were an unprecedented 14 new citizens, who pledged their allegiance to Australia. Applause filled the hall as the community welcomed members of the Asuncion, Santa Ana and Van der Reit families as Narrogin’s newest Australian citizens. Phyllis Van der Reit and her family originate from South Africa and came to Australia in 2010. They moved to a farm in Williams before settling in Narrogin, where they have been for the past three years. Mrs Van der Reit said it was a big decision for her family to become Australian citizens. “We are giving up our citizenship for our birth country,” she said. “But we have been here long enough, we feel a part of the community already, and we just wanted to make it official.” Bernadette Cardinez belongs to the Asuncion family and arrived in Australia from the Philippines 12 years ago. Mrs Cardinez manages the Narrogin Motel and has been in the role since she arrived in town. “Narrogin is our home now and we decided to become citizens today, so our kids can feel settled and have a better opportunity,” she said. Extra entertainment was provided by some students from Narrogin Primary School’s choir and bush poet Frank Heffernan. Australia Day ceremonies took place all over the region, including in neighbouring Wagin, where Mandy Harrington was named citizen of the year. Wagin’s senior citizen of the year was Wendy Abbott, while suicide prevention ride 2 Wheels to Wagin was named the community event of the year. Chesney Dawson won Wagin’s sportsperson of the year award.