Derek’s the man


Derek Blackwell of Naracoorte has been named the town s citizen of the year.NARACOORTE’S Derek Blackwell has been recognised for his hard work and commitment to the local community by being named the town’s citizen of the year.

Since arriving in the town in 1986, Mr Blackwell has worked tirelessly within community groups in Naracoorte for almost 30 years and will be honoured for his devotion to the area at the Australia Day ceremony in the Naracoorte town squares on Monday morning.

Mr Blackwell was taken aback when Naracoorte Lucindale mayor Erika Vickery notified him of his award.

“It was quite surprising,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all, no one really expects it I guess.

“I thought it was a joke when Erika rang me.”

The well-known local has been heavily involved in the community over the years, including leading the Naracoorte South Primary School as principal for 18-and-a-half years, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

“I had a lot to do with the South school community in particular,” he said.

Mr Blackwell has been associated with the Naracoorte Lions Club for a commendable 18 years as well, and is the current president.

During his time with the Lions he has held several positions such as secretary, board member as well as vice-president.

“To become a Lions club president you must work your way up, it’s a four year journey as a vice,” he explained.

Mr Blackwell’s ties within the community don’t stop there – he has also been heavily involved with the National Trust of Australia.

“I’ve been involved with the National Trust for over 12 years,” he said. “I was president of the National Trust for 11 years and have recently stood down because of other commitments.”

The Naracoorte local has also helped the Taste the Limestone Coast Festival come to fruition over the years, being heavily involved with the committee since the festival started back in 2001.

Mr Blackwell has been the chair of the festival’s committee for the past four years.

As well as his other roles within the community, Mr Blackwell is well-known for being the MC at large community events such as the Christmas Pageant, Naracoorte Singers’ events, Christmas carols and what used to be known as “Bethlehem comes to Naracoorte” during the festive season.

“I’ve been happy to do all sorts for the community,” he said.

“Basically people who want help and assistance with that sort of thing (MC at events).”

Mr Blackwell is not sure but believes a group of local Lions members, led by Bob Tidy, nominated him for the award.

“I’m very humbled that they thought I was worth nominating,” he said. “I was very surprised as there are many others in the community that are as worthy as I am.

“A country community is all about volunteers.”

Mr Blackwell said he will be spending the morning of Australia Day at the ceremony in the town squares, but plans to enjoy a barbecue lunch with his family afterwards.

The Independent Learning Centre students will be officially recognised as Naracoorte’s Young Citizens of the Year while Welly’s Poker Run will be named Naracoorte’s Event of the Year at the Australia Day ceremony.

Celebrations in Naracoorte will start at 7am with breakfast supplied by local service clubs (for a donation of $5), and entertainment starts from 7.35am before the official ceremony at 7.55am.

Australia Day Ambassador Rima Chahoud will be the guest speaker on Australia Day.

Ms Chahoud is a mental health activist who has developed specialist resources in suicide awareness training for mental health workers.

Lucindale Citizen of the Year

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