Jenny Howell, Ellie Burstal take out Young's citizenship awards

Junior Citizen of the Year Ellie Burstal, ambassador George Ellis and Citizen of the Year Jenny Howell. Photo: Peter Guthrie
Junior Citizen of the Year Ellie Burstal, ambassador George Ellis and Citizen of the Year Jenny Howell. Photo: Peter Guthrie

Jenny Howell has been named Young's Citizen of the Year at the 2020 Australia Day ceremony at the Town Hall.

Jenny is the volunteer coordinator for Young Food Hall, a committee member for Young's Combined Churches Christmas lunch, and a long term volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

The Food Hall helps people in receipt of benefits and/or lower income earners access groceries.

Jenny oversees 40 volunteers who help make the organisation operate each Wednesday from 9am to 12noon, while providing for close to 1000 registered clients.

She liaises with a network of local organisations including the Crisis Accommodation Centre, Lambing Flat, Community Hub and St Vincent De Paul to ensure all donated food goes to those who are less fortunate.

"The volunteer work that Jenny coordinates helps to build community, combats loneliness, increases socialising, and creates friendly and caring atmosphere," Hilltops mayor Brian Ingram said.

"The work of the individual is the spark that moves the community forward, and that individual is Jenny."

Jenny highlighted the work of all volunteers in the community.

"It's obvious that I only do a bit of the work. There is a great lot of volunteers helping in all of the things I do, I only do a bit of it," Jenny said.

"I'm so grateful that at my age I can do something to contribute to this community, because there is so many good people out there doing so much more than I'm doing, thank you so much."

Junior Citizen of the Year went to Ellie Burstal, the creator of the Hilltops Naked Calendar.

The second edition of the calendar was released late last year, following the hugely popular 2018 edition.

Ellie's idea for the calendar was to raise awareness of rural mental health, due to the combination of drought and a spike in suicides in the local area.

"This project is by no means easy, Ellie had to find a bunch of locals to strip off and expose themselves in a range of poses before a local photographer," mayor Ingram said.

"It's got people talking about rural mental health, it's started a conversation between individuals, and raised funds which are directed back to farmers in dire need of assistance.

"Ellie has brought light and laughter to many lives. Our future is in great hands."

Ellie also volunteers for Young Riding for Disabled, helps out at Bribbaree Show and the annual Camellia Show, and has raised awareness of RUOK Day locally by supporting the Blue Tree Project.

"Thank you very much this is a very big honour. Thank you to the people who put my name in, I really appreciate it. I couldn't have done it without the team and all the sponsors who helped make the calendar come true. Thank you, I really appreciate it," Ellie said.

Business of the Year was awarded to Hilltops Meats and four people from the Young community made the pledge to become Australian citizens.