Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year Evelyn Gane waves the flag on Minnie Water beach after the announcement at Australia Day celebrations.
Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year Evelyn Gane waves the flag on Minnie Water beach after the announcement at Australia Day celebrations.

Evelyn named citizen of the year

YOU could not wipe the smile from Evelyn Gane’s face after she was announced the Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year.

While she took out the top honour, she didn’t expect it at all.

“I have been up since before five this morning. I just couldn’t sleep I was so excited to come down here,” she said.

“I was looking at the list of my fellow nominees and it is filled with wonderful people. Compared to them, I am a bit of a small fry.”

Evelyn was honoured for her commitment to the community and her efforts in organising events.

For the past 17 years, Evelyn has been the guiding force behind the Australian National Goanna Pulling Championships, growing in popularity every year.

She also successfully campaigned to secure the first permanent police station and officer in Wooli and the services of a permanent physician.

“For its population Wooli had a fairly high crime rate, so every six weeks for an extended period of time I travelled down to Sydney to speak with the Police Minister and eventually he agreed to a permanent officer placement and police accommodations,” she said.

“After we got a police officer I figured our community could do with a permanent doctor, so I began advertising the position in medical journals. It took three years, but in the end it was worth it.”

The main reason Evelyn got into community work and event planning was to combat homesickness.

“When I moved from Sydney to Wooli many years ago, I left behind everything I knew. My children and grandchildren and where I had grown up. In short, I was incredibly homesick,” she said.

“One day a lady I met told me to stop crying and feeling sorry for myself and get out there and do something. So I did.”

Now living in Grafton, this community-minded woman shows no signs of slowing down.

“I love the challenge community and volunteer work presents,” she said.

“I love meeting new people and helping those less fortunate than myself. I have seen the best and the worst in people through my endeavours and have learnt from every experience.”

Evelyn’s next campaign is to help council gain funding to replace the Grafton Public Library.



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