Peuckers’ team effort BY SARAH SCULLY
orsham Rural City’s citizens of the year Russell and Libby Peucker firmly believe what you get out of life is dependent on what you put into it.
The Peuckers will be honoured for their commitment to improving the Horsham South community, including countless hours of volunteering and leadership, on Australia Day. Mr Peucker said the couple was shocked to learn of the accolade. “We’ve been involved in a lot of things, but we’ve tried to do everything anonymously, behind the scenes,” he said. Mr Peucker, whose connection to Burnt Creek spans five generations, said the couple benefitted from living in a strong community with plenty of support. Mr Peucker has 45 years’ experience in the Country Fire Authority and led the co-ordination of the 2014 Grampians bushfire recovery program. He was the liaison between volunteer organisation BlazeAid – which worked with families to rebuild damaged and destroyed fencing – fire victims, the Country Fire Authority and Horsham Rural City Council. “In the past 45 years we’ve had a lot of big fires and big
“It’s a surprise, but it’s a thrill. I think we’re getting this award on behalf of a lot of people.” – Russell Peucker
accidents. Over that time, Libby’s supported me through it all with phonecalls, radio work, catering and all that sort of thing,” he said. “We’re a team.” Mrs Peucker was also actively involved in supporting fire victims and BlazeAid. “It was the worst fire we’ve ever had and people are still recovering,” she said. “We have a property on Winfields Road on the edge of the Grampians, so our involvement is in the Laharum, Wartook Valley and Grampians community. “The community is still finding it hard, two years after the fires. And of course, there’s the drought. The past two harvests have been the worst on record. “We’re supporting the community, reconnecting them after the fires.” The Peuckers are both active members of the Green Lake Foreshore Committee, with Mr Peucker leading the Fill Green Lake campaign. He is also a member of Zumstein’s Flood Recovery Group, an advocate for the water flow and natural environment of Lower Burnt Creek and Bungalally Creek,
and is representing the community east of Horsham in the planning process for a city bypass. Mrs Peucker is a member of Horsham Agricultural Society and several other community organisations.
Both are life members of Laharum Football Netball Club, with Mr Peucker chairman of Laharum Sports Inc, which supervised the development of Cameron Oval. Mr Peucker said both he and Mrs Peucker played all their sport at Laharum, as did their three children. “We’ve even had some grandkids start playing some netball there,” he said. Mr Peucker said being part of a sporting club taught the importance of volunteerism from a young age. “Even in juniors, kids all have their little jobs to do, whether it’s running water or the boundary,” he said. “It shows them that you don’t just get given things, there is a certain amount you need to put in to get back. “If we can get kids involved
and reward them for their efforts, it’s great. It gives them a sense of ownership.” Mr Peucker encouraged people, who were not already, to become involved in community life. “With the dropping of population in the country, we’re in danger of wearing out the willing workers,” he said. “There’s just less and less people in the country, but we’ve still got the same jobs. “We still want fire brigades and footy clubs.” Mrs Peucker said the couple’s son Ben was continuing the family tradition. “He’s on the football committee and he runs the cricket out at Laharum, along with some others,” she said. “He’s continuing on whether he likes it or not. “Often there is no choice – someone has to do it, and it might as well be you.” Mrs Peucker said she and her husband abided by a motto included in her late father-inlaw’s obituary: “This country is only entrusted into our care for the short span of life. Let us pass it on better than we found it.” “Our work is never going to be finished, that’s for sure,” she said. “We’ve got to keep our communities alive – otherwise, they will die.”
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Dalton encourages youth involvement Horsham’s Young Citizen of the Year Dalton Cross has encouraged his peers to make the most of opportunities to contribute to their community.
Mr Cross, who was elected vice-president of Horsham Agricultural Society in 2015, started volunteering at a young age. “I started helping with the animal nursery at the Horsham Show when I was 12,” he said. “I think I took it on when I was 13 or 14, with some help from Eric and Anne Lane. It grew to be just me, and now Anne helps me.” Horsham Mayor Heather Phillips paid tribute to Mr Cross, 22, for his enthusiasm and interest in helping others. “In particular, he has a passionate desire to help grow Horsham Agricultural Show, particularly the animal nursery,” she said. “Dalton has a reputation for creating an excellent exhibit of animals at the show, which has become well known across the Wimmera.” Mr Cross said he was shocked to receive a phonecall from Cr Phillips, asking if he would accept the award. “I have no idea what I’m going to say in my speech,” he said. “I don’t even know where I’m going to start. “The things I do in the community – why I’ve been nominated – I don’t do for accolades or a big pat on the back. I just do it for myself and because I enjoy doing it. “I didn’t think I did that much and then when I read the list, I saw I was part of a few things.” Mr Cross also volunteers for Noradjuha-Quantong Football Netball Club, Horsham Spring Garden Festival, Richard Morris Memorial Concert and Quantong German Festival. He is a member of the Zion Lutheran Church Vectus congregation and a member of the church’s property committee. “I think people will be surprised to read Wednesday, January 20, 2016
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ENTHUSIASTIC: Dalton Cross is Horsham’s Young Citizen of the Year. I go to church. I don’t think anybody would really guess that,” he said. Mr Cross called on Wimmera youth to become more involved in their community. “We need some younger sets of hands,” he said. “There’s always the same older group of people, whether it’s kids’ grandmas and grandpas helping out with the Lions, or any other little organisation. “They need the 18 to 25-year-old age group to take an interest in things they used to like going to as a kid. Instead of running it down, or bagging out how bad some things are, they should jump in and help.”
Event of the year
Horsham East Rotary Club has won the municipality’s Community Event of the Year award for its planning, preparation
and running of the 2015 Tri State Games. “This outstanding week-long sporting event for people with disabilities attracted about 350 athletes, their support crews, personal carers, family members and friends to Horsham,” Cr Phillips said. “The games were strongly supported by the region’s disability support network and many volunteers from service clubs and the general community. This very successful event is a credit to all involved.” Cr Phillips encouraged Wimmera residents to attend Australia Day celebrations at Horsham, Brimpaen and Natimuk on Tuesday to recognise and honour individuals and groups who contributed to the community. Horsham’s Australia Day ambassador is long-serving RACV Club general manager Aris Imbardelli.
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Presented by Stawell Regional Arts Venue: Stawell Entertainment Centre Date & Time: Monday 25th January 2016 – 7:30pm Tickets: Pre Book at Stawell Library (53581274) = $25 Purchase at the door = $30 A licensed bar will be operating during the evening
Read the January 20 edition online!