Outstanding community citizens applauded this Australia Day


28 January 2022

Outstanding community spirit was applauded at this week’s Australia Day celebrations.

The Community Citizen of the Year Awards recognise the positive impact of people and groups who are engaged and committed to our local community, they celebrate their outstanding contribution. This year the Shire of Irwin had seventeen nominees across four categories.

The Community Citizen of the Year Award – Citizen of the Year was presented to Gavin Denton for the time and effort he has put into the Dongara Denison Bowls Club.

Since his arrival in town in 2015 Mr Denton has enthusiastically given his time to the day to day running and progression of the Dongara Denison Bowls Club. He has helped bring the Club back from the financial brink and has been instrumental in upgrades to many of the Club’s facilities including the bar, kitchen and most recently the greens. This has greatly benefited the community as it has meant the Club can host large regional tournaments and open its kitchen to provide catering and meals to the public.  

Shire of Irwin President Mike Smith congratulated the winners.

“We have some remarkable people in our community and these awards give us the opportunity to show them how much we appreciate their efforts and commitment,” Mr Smith said.

“From donating their time to support our local St John Ambulance service to cooking and helping those in need, these people are remarkable human beings who are to be commended.”

The Australia Day WA Active Citizen of the Year Awards were presented to the following individuals and groups:

  • Community Citizen of the Year (Overall) – Gavin Denton
  • Active Citizenship Award (Group) – Men in Sheds
  • Senior of the Year – Trudy Wisewould
  • Young Citizen of the Year – Beau M’Leane

The Australia Day WA Active Citizen of the Year Awards are supported by Auspire and the Australia Day Council WA.

More information about the Awards is available at

Nominees for the Shire of Irwin 2022 Community Citizen of the Year Awards

Senior Community Citizen of the Year

Robert Cail

Everyone is familiar with the face of Bob Cail in the Dongara Port Denison community, who has been nominated twice for the Senior Community Citizen of the Year award today. From taking the kids for a ride on the Lions Train at the monthly markets, to his presence as a volunteer at Russ Cottage and the Old Museum.

Bob volunteers with the Irwin District Historical Society where he has taken the time to make the old toys and games for the visitors to touch and play and has been a very active member of the Dongara Denison Lions Club for about 30 years.

He has been described as a history buff and the deliverer of the most well-balanced answer to any enquiry, especially when it comes to his enthusiasm and knowledge of Russ Cottage.

Thankyou Bob for all that you do.

Janet Ross

Janet Ross is a very active member of the Dongara Pottery Club. Janet goes above and beyond to encourage and welcome new members and volunteers. She coordinates visits from different community groups, including children and seniors where they actively participate in pottery.

She advocates for community events with the intention of making positive contributions to mental health through creativity, using the medium of art and pottery. Janet was a key facilitator in instigating the 'Fairy Garden' and Thungurra Art Trail, engaging numerous community members to create a space for all to enjoy.

An amazing contribution to the community. Thankyou Janet.

Trudy Wisewould

Trudy has been an active member of the community since arriving in Dongara in 1978. Her volunteering commenced as a Brownie Leader in 1985. Trudy became secretary of the School P&C while her kids were attending, coordinating many of the P&C fund-raising events. While running her own business, Trudy volunteered with St John Ambulance Irwin in 1998, taking on the secretary position utill 2010 and then again in 2012 and 2015 where she has remained since.

In 2017, Trudy was awarded the Order of St John Service Medal, the highest achievable. In 2020, Trudy was awarded another service medal, which is second bar to the Order of St John Service Medal. Trudy is also a Health Support and Wellbeing officer for the Irwin St John Ambulance sub centre. Her car is always at the sub centre on weekends or working on ambulance matters from home. Averaging 15-20 hrs per week, her many roles as a volunteer include storeroom supervisor, morning tea lady, manning St John Information Stands at events, and welfare checks on volunteers after attending a traumatic scene.

Trudy, along with Carol was also instrumental in the new building and where it stands today.

An outstanding nomination of an outstanding member of our community. Thankyou Trudy

Bevan Broad

Bevan has encompassed the community spirit and enhanced his community by way of actively serving for St Johns for a number of years, both on road and off road. Bevan’s commitment to the Sub Centre goes above and beyond just the normal maintaining of the ambulances, van services and tyre-changes, the gardens, or taking on odd jobs – the list is endless. In addition, he has made himself available as a great mentor for new recruits, having served for many years on the road and having seen it all.

Bevan goes to extra lengths to ensure that his community is kept safe. He is regularly joined by his wife Jan who always ensures there’s a good supply of cakes and muffins for volunteers to enjoy on busy bees. Bevan takes it upon himself in the early hours of the morning, to ensure the vans that went out the night before are ready to go for the next emergency.

A very grateful community for your behind the scenes contributions. Thankyou Bevan

Ruth Cousins

Ruth has been described as a dedicated and active member of the Dongara Port Denison Community.

She is an avid volunteer and for the last 22 years has dedicated her time at the Port Denison Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue where she has been awarded a life membership for her invaluable contribution. Ruth still remains an important presence at the Sea Search and Rescue.

Ruth’s volunteering does not end there. For the last 22 years, she has faithfully kept our community up to date with all the latest information and news as a typist at the local rag where she continues to give her time for the benefit of others.

Ruth, your long-term and ongoing contribution to the community is greatly appreciated.

Young Community Citizen of the Year

Beau M’leane

Beau is described as a terrific role model for the Dongara Port Denison Youth having commenced his volunteering at a young age. Joining the Dongara Denison Volunteer Fire Brigade, Beau participates in training and drills in order to receive accreditation to become an active member of the Brigade in preparation for our upcoming bush fire season.

Beau’s commitment and love for the community and it’s safety should serve as an inspiration to our emerging young citizens.

Well done Beau.

Active Citizenship Award for Community Group or Event

Dongara Men in Sheds

Over the last 12 months, who within the community hasn’t heard about the amazing contributions of our Dongara Men in Sheds group?

Not only is the Men in Sheds a thriving, mental health initiative, our local group is a bunch of incredibly generous individuals who, through their expertise, have secured profitable industry contracts – such as the recycling of scrap metal and then redirected the profits from these projects back into the local community.

These profits have been spent on various initiatives such as the sponsoring of local sporting groups and the donation of bench seats along Point Leander Drive.

The Memorial Park upgrade was a significant expansion project, facilitated and funded through the hard work of the Dongara Men in Sheds Group and the local RSL, supported by local industry.

They are an important piece of the fabric that makes our special town what it is.

Community Citizen of the Year

Donna Summers

Donna wears many hats. She is a businesswoman, community volunteer, teacher, driving instructor, wife, mother and farm partner. Donna managed Arrowsmith Computers, which served customers from across the Mid-West and employed many locals, for 20 years. Since retiring Donna has dedicated her time to volunteering. Transporting clients for DEMHS, delivering meals for Meals on Wheels and assisting as a transport officer with St John Ambulance. A keen gardener, Donna has also worked with WACC and Coast Care on environmental projects, all while supporting her husband Peter as DFES chief and on their sheep farming business.

Donna’s selflessness and dedication to her community is truly admirable. Thankyou Donna.

Erica Payne

Erica has been nominated for her work with the 'Days For Girls' program, a not for profit organisation that works to increase access to sanitary products and vital health information for women and girls around the world.

Erica was also nominated for her work helping the Northampton community after Cyclone Seroja. She instigated the Mother's Day Hampers and Christmas Hampers that were a welcome blessing to many people.

Thankyou Erica for your commitment to not just our community here in Irwin, but to our neighbouring communities as well.

Ebony Pearse

Ebony volunteers her time at a number of different organisations in our community and as such, has been nominated twice for a Community Citizen of the Year award.

Ebony has been a member of the Dongara Denison Surf Life Saving Club for several years and in that time, has taken on a number of roles within the Club including coordinator and secretary.

When the Dongara sub junior Netball Club was formed this year, she immediately took on a committee position and volunteers her time to umpire the “Net, Set, Go” teams in Geraldton.

She is the secretary of the Dongara Junior Football Club and has been part of the North Midlands sporting groups as both a player and volunteer for the previous few years also.

Ebony does all this while also working in community health, and we are privileged to have her in our community. Thankyou Ebony

Brian Sloper

Brian has been involved with the Dongara Denison Surf Life Saving Club since 2010. He has been on the club committee and took over as Club Captain in 2016.

Brian singlehandedly organises the patrols, equipment and rosters on South Beach that run from December to April and spends the most hours every year on patrol. He also handles all the maintenance issues with the club and equipment.

He is on the Wesfarmers Emergency Response team for life saving and has been involved in Search and Recovery call outs up in Geraldton for the last 6 years.

Brian has also been involved with the Drive-In for the past 9 years, and for the last 15 years he has been a committee member of the Dongara Professional Fisherman's Association where he is actively involved in organising our famous Blessing of the Fleet.

Brian is easy going and happy to volunteer his time wherever it is needed, he is an asset to our community. Thankyou Brian.

Gavin Denton

Since he and his partner (Kath) arrived in town in 2015, Gavin has enthusiastically given his time to the day-to-day running and progression of the Denison Bowling Club.

Gavin has taken on the role of President, Vice President and current match committee member. When he took over the reigns of the club in 2016, the club was in debt and the financial forecast at the time gave the club approximately a five-year life span. During his time on the Executive committee, Gavin was instrumental in the introduction of reforms to the club’s finances. He commissioned and co-wrote a 5-year business plan and drastically improved the club’s administration procedures.

Gavin has applied for grants and through his shrewd financial management, the Club has been able to incorporate a new North facing frontage, new light towers and upgrades in the bar and kitchen area. He also co-wrote a feasibility study to replace the existing grass greens with new state of the art synthetic greens.

Gavin then volunteered to chair the newly established synthetic green replacement committee and worked with the Shire to secure a WA Local Government Sport and Rec for a grant project total in excess of $500K. It should be noted, no club or supporting body in WA has produced and achieved a grant of this size. The grant application was ultimately successful and last year, the club under Gavin's direction, successfully converted two of the grass greens to synthetic.

These upgrades have greatly benefited the wider community as it has meant the Club can host large regional tournaments and open its kitchen to provide catering and meals to the public. 

Thanks largely to Gavin’s efforts, the club is now showing a healthy profit and will continue to play a pivotal role within the Shire for many years to come.

We thank Gavin for his ongoing commitment and dedication the Club.

Trish Parker

Trish is an active member of the Irwin Districts Historical Society and has gone above and beyond in her efforts to preserve the oral history of key people in our community.

She has spent hundreds of hours interviewing locals past and present, recording their stories to compile them into historical archives to be made available to the community.

Trish has also contributed much of her time to get the 'Pack Out Room' Pop Up Museum off the ground and ready for public viewing, as a step towards curating a bigger, more permanent museum which will highlight the key role that the maritime and fishing industry has played in our town.

Trish is a regular volunteer at the Irwin Districts Historical Society and shows great enthusiasm sharing her knowledge, time and efforts to benefit all members of our community.

Your efforts are truly appreciated, thankyou Trish.

Dawn Cullen

Dawn is a very active, highly motivated, and caring member of our community. She is always willing to volunteer her time to assist with any cause or group that asks for help. Although working full time, Dawn is an active member of the school P&C and volunteers on the Irwin Race Club Committee. She recently spent many hours assisting with the setting up and cleaning up for the Irwin Districts Charities Ball.

Dawn also has a passion for helping the environment. She single-handedly set up a recycling facility at our local school to raise funds and educate students about caring for our environment and ocean for future generations.

Dawn looks after members of our community and is always cooking meals or lending a hand to people who are unwell or in need. Her ongoing contribution to our community, its land and people is to be commended and recognised.

Thankyou Dawn for all that you do.

Kylie Bessen

Kylie has served our community in many ways, volunteering for a number of organisations and causes. Kylie is an active member of our local basketball club acting at various times as coach, secretary and treasurer. For over ten years, she has taken children to Perth to play basketball. Through COVID lockdowns, Kylie delivered groceries and in her spare time she makes herself available to help young mums. Kylie is always diplomatic and spreads joy throughout our community. She has been known to help out with cooking for funerals or for our senior citizens and has helped facilitate the walking to school program.

She is a mentor and inspiration for young and old. Thankyou Kylie

Paul Parker

Paul (Doopa) has generously donated an enormous amount of time and skill to assist the Irwin Districts Historical Society, and the community. In the past two years, he has made an enormous contribution to the Society by clearing the yard and single-handedly building the Trolley Shed for old railway trolleys at the Old Police Station Museum, where he also erected all the new signage in the courtyard and researched and facilitated the replacement of verandah floorboards.

Doopa also provides a truck and manpower for every IDHS event as required, including numerous trips to the tip, with no request for remuneration, and designed and built the laundry extension at Russ Cottage.

This year Doopa has been instrumental in the construction of the Russ Cottage toilet by volunteering labour and skills to bring the project to fruition. This involved hundreds of hours of planning, liaising, and physical work on site earthmoving and building. Doopa garnered the support of tradespeople and businesses who donated labour and materials in a massive community effort. The toilet was completed in late November, in the 150th year of Russ Cottage.

We thank you Doopa for your dedication to the preservation of our community’s rich history.


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