Citizen of Year for vollie

By Grace Jones | posted on February 3, 2018

WITH seven nominees for the City of Albany’s Australia Day Community Citizen of the Year award, volunteer firefighter Heather Bell stood out from the rest following her efforts during the 2016 Yarloop and Esperance fires.

Ms Bell has volunteered with St John Ambulance for more than 15 years, and only started volunteering with Albany’s Volunteer Bushfire Brigade three years ago.

“I wanted to get out into the community to help others, and after a while I was asked to be the secretary for the brigade,” she said.

“So I started helping out when I could, and when the opportunity came up to raise some money for a new Forward Control Vehicle, I jumped on it.”

“The FCV we had was definitely past its use-by date, so it was great to be able to raise the money to buy a new one,” she said.

“We use the van as a control point during emergencies, so all communications are fed through the van to liaise with other teams on the ground.

“It also has live feeds of the fires with up-to-date maps so we can track where the fire is and where it’s going.”

Ms Bell was also recognised for her work in raising funds for victims and communities that were affected by the 2016 Yarloop and Esperance fires.

The achievement was not lost on her family.

Her brother in England and her daughter were very proud of her accomplishments.

“My brother has been posting on Facebook saying how he’s a proud little brother, and my daughter took the time during work to come watch me get my award,” she said.

“I’m lucky my kids are so great with all the volunteering I do.”

Stephanie Mitchell from the Albany Roller Derby League received the Young Citizen of the Year Award for raising more than $10,000 for the burgeoning league and her efforts in the White Ribbon Day, Light the Night and Pride Rally.

Don Perfrement received the Senior Citizen of the Year award in recognition of his various fundraisers for charities including the Royal Flying Doctors and Albany Hospice.

Soroptimist International Albany received this year’s Australia Day Active Citizen Award for their work in raising awareness of issues affecting young girls and women within the region.