By Chris Thomson | posted on February 22, 2018
THERE was a lot of love at Denmark council chambers on Tuesday afternoon as weed warrior Diane Harwood was named citizen of the year.
Outside the chambers after receiving the shire’s top gong, Ms Harwood, a passionate member of the Denmark Weed Action Group, said she was “very surprised” to have been honoured.
“It means, to me, that people out in the community really care for the bush the way I do,” she said.
“There’s a lot of people out there who agree with the way the group works in the bush, which is a very gentle way.
“We don’t go in with a machine, but do hand-weeding and it looks as if nothing’s happened.”
Minutes earlier, from her shire president’s chair, Ceinwen Gearon had said Ms Harwood was well-known for doing “lots of work on the ground”.
“Diane is passionate about our bushland and we’re grateful to her for all the work she has done,” Cr Gearon said.
Denmark local Andrew Dickinson then stepped to a lectern and, in the direction of Cr Gearon and her dormant gavel, was moved to bush verse:
This town has a hero, the bush has a friend, a champion there to protect
our natural environment so rich and so wild, the places to which we connect.
One of a small band of women so strong, quietly chipping away,
tipping the balance to favour the bush, removing the weeds that held sway.
Releasing the natives has been her life’s work. Though comrades have fallen aside,
her focus stayed strong and she knew right from wrong. She’d carry this flame ‘til she died.
Now she has a band protecting this land from the beautiful escapees,
for her passion inspires, her strength we admire. What a gutsy woman is she!
Over so many years and in so many ways she has tried to educate us.
But despair she has known, for the bush that she loved faced a death of a thousand cuts.
In performing her tasks she has mastered her craft, refining bush re-gen techniques.
So pay attention you fellas and lend her your ear and listen whenever she speaks.
This town has a hero who has worked long and hard.
To her we should take off our hat.
She is truly a gem, a national treasure
and citizen of the year at that.
A spontaneous round of applause erupted from the packed public gallery.
Photo: Chris Thomson