MATESHIP: Peter Evans (second left), with mates Robert Renaud, Dave Facer and Ken Barrett at Australia Day celebrations today, is the region's 2017 Citizen of the Year.
MATESHIP: Peter Evans (second left), with mates Robert Renaud, Dave Facer and Ken Barrett at Australia Day celebrations today, is the region's 2017 Citizen of the Year. Eliza Goetze

'It's what we do': the man who feeds our disaster troops

FOR Peter Evans, helping out his fellow man in tough times is a way of life.

The Salvation Army volunteer has seen Bundaberg through its worst - from fires to floods.

He is this year's Bundaberg Region Australia Day Citizen of the Year, recognised for his role in the development of the Salvos' base on McCarthy St into an authorised evacuation centre, a vital asset to the city in disasters.

It is the little things like a good meal that help people cope with trauma, Mr Evans explained.

"For us, we cater. We look after people,” he said.

"For people who have been through so much, keeping their health and wellbeing up is a priority for the disaster management group.”

IT'S WHAT WE DO: Bundaberg Region Australia Day Citizen of the Year, Peter Evans.
IT'S WHAT WE DO: Bundaberg Region Australia Day Citizen of the Year, Peter Evans. Eliza Goetze

"The work undertaken by Peter and the SAES means local emergency services, including Police and SES, have reliable resources - such as food, liquids and psychological support,” Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said.

"There's an old saying that an army marches on its stomach: the same is true of emergency responders during disasters.”

Mr Evans leads a team of volunteers and co-ordinates catering efforts with other agencies including the Red Cross and Bundaberg Regional Council.

"Trying to get people sorted after a disaster, it's quite traumatic,” he said.

"Our guys are there to feed and help people through it; have a listening ear as the Salvos always do - they are amazing.

"It's hard because you're seeing people distraught and upset and you have to work through that.

"Looking after people is what we do. It's what we have to do.”

GALLERY: Check out all the Australia Day celebrations across Bundaberg.

The award was a shock for Mr Evans, who didn't even know he was nominated.

He has lived in Bundaberg for the last 22 years, living in Darwin before that.

"Winning the award was mind blowing,” he said.

"It was very humbling

"I accepted it on behalf of my family who help me unbelievably.

"My wife, she's my rock, and without my family I don't know if I could do it.”

HAVING A BLAST: Amelia Roberts has a go of the fire hose, guided by Burnett Heads Rural Fire Service volunteer Jeremy Nyberg, as mum Lisa watches on.
HAVING A BLAST: Amelia Roberts has a go of the fire hose, guided by Burnett Heads Rural Fire Service volunteer Jeremy Nyberg, as mum Lisa watches on. Eliza Goetze

Festival lights the way for our future talents

THE Lighthouse Festival at Burnett Heads took out Community Event of the Year.

Committee member Chris McLoughlin said the award was something everyone involved in the festival could be proud of.

"It's great that all those committee members and volunteers over the years have had their efforts recognised,” he said.

"This award is for them.”

Burnett Heads Lighthouse Festival organisers
Burnett Heads Lighthouse Festival organisers Eliza Goetze

The festival, which runs on the last weekend of October every year, began seven years ago.

It was started by locals who wanted to promote Burnett Heads and the Bundaberg region.

"We're really proud we've been able to promote new talent,” Mr McLoughlin said.

"They're all local artists who maybe sold their first painting with us, or got up on stage for the first time to a big crowd.

"We've had musicians like Quatro, Ruby Mills, Phoebe Jay and Matt Munro, who have all gone onto bigger things after appearing on our stage.

"We want to keep growing it and making it better every year.”

After the winners were recognised yesterday, Mills herself took to the stage to entertain the crowds.

SMOOTH TUNES: Ruby Mills and Dan Hardy entertain the Australia Day crowds at Lions Park.
SMOOTH TUNES: Ruby Mills and Dan Hardy entertain the Australia Day crowds at Lions Park. Eliza Goetze

The two women fighting for freedom and independence - for seniors

THE Bundaberg 2017 Community Spirit Award went to Jean Vane and Beatrice Jones.

With more than 60 years of service to the Bundaberg Seniors Centre between them, lately they have been fighting to curb the isolation facing so many of their peers.

"I joined the Seniors 30 years ago but I'm finding now a lot of my friends have had to relinquish their (driver) licences, and it's extremely hard because you find yourself cut off from everyone,” Jean said.

"The people I want to share my award with are the people who say 'I'm going to town, would you like a lift? I'm heading to a concert, would you like to come? Do you want to go and get your keys cut?'

"It's those little things.

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Beatrice Jones and Jean Vane.
COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Beatrice Jones and Jean Vane. Eliza Goetze

"There are organisations that can do it but it's not the same as your neighbour helping you with those small appointments.

"Otherwise you become isolated and you can get depressed.

"You lose your freedom and you lose your independence, and that's a big shift in your life.”

"You get out as much as you put in,” Beatrice said of volunteering.

"And you make friends for life.”



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