A crowd of 2-300 gathered at Jubliee Park for the 2020 Australia Day breakfast and ceremony at Jubilee Park under the gum trees.
It was a thoroughly Australian scene with dappled sunshine, native birdsong and the scent of bacon, egg and sausage emanating from the Lions Club kitchen caravan.
Awards were made to the sportsperson, young citizen and citizen of the year, and also this year for the first time, certificates of appreciation were presented to ten others who were nominated for, but missed out on, an award.
There were no Australia Day citizen affirmations at Cootamundra this year, but one at Gundagai.
The formal ceremony, which included the national anthem and a prayer, was supplemented with entertainment from a five-man rock band, Coota Connections, as well as a poetry recital by Michael Baldry and the Sing Australia Choir, with the traditional colourful display of antique and historical vehicles.
Sportsperson of the year, Sam Gash, 14, has been selected to play for the Canberra Raiders under 16 side. Reading out the citation, master of ceremonies Paul Braybrooks listed a formidable number of local sporting events and teams Mr Gash has been involved in.
The young citizen of the year award was made to Bradon Lambert, formerly a scout and now a dedicated volunteer with Cootamundra Red Cross, who helps people in need in the community with day to day household tasks including cleaning and lawnmowing.
Citizen of the year is Michelle Baldry, who has been a dedicated meals on wheels volunteer for more than 20 years, and assisted with fund raising and awareness for the Red Cross for almost as long.
Mrs Baldry has also been a strong supporter of the Catholic community, the Cootamundra Nursing Home, the St Vincent de Paul Society, and has been a member of the Wallendbeen Red Cross for 60 years, currently serving as president.
Along with the annual awards for sportsperson, junior citizen and citizen of the year the Australia Day ceremony organisers also decided in 2020 to award certificates of appreciation to members of the community nominated for an award.
Deputy mayor Dennis Palmer and Australia Day ambassador Dr Ben Veness presented certificates of appreciation to Betti Punnett, Chris Williams, a representative from the Cootamundra Soup Kitchen, Eleanor Armstrong, Geoff Larsen, Gloria Schultz, Janette Harris, Lisa Hines, Steven Cootes and Ted O'Connor.
Ambassador Veness, said it was evident from the huge crowd and from what he had learned about Cootamundra from his chats with people and his research that Cootamundra has social connection "in spades".
"I started to try and write a little list of things I'd been hearing about and I would have been pleased to have half a dozen but I already have a dozen on this list," Dr Veness said.
"Whether it's the soup kitchen that provides food for people who maybe can't afford a feed but also provides a place for people to have a meal with someone else - or the Bradman's birthplace, where volunteers help share the place with visitors and locals
"Or the Coota Beach Volleyball Festival with something like 20,000 cubic metres of sand being trucked in - a fantastic initiative that demonstrates the cleverness as well as the connection within town.
"Then there's the Arts Centre friendship groups, the Muttuma Creek Regeneration Group, the CWA, Probus, Lions Club, Probus, the car collection I've really adored seeing here, the Blues concert coming up next month to raise money for the firies, the Meals on Wheels and the fact that you have a community-run nursing home - these are fantastic,
"What I'm coming to is an appreciation that this is such a friendly town - one woman I spoke with told me it's so friendly it takes forever to do the shopping.
"I think that's a really good sign that Cootamundra is doing something right.
"Connection is so key, standing around each other especially in times of need is truly the best prescription that a doctor and somebody's who's interested in public health like I am could ever write."
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