DEDICATION: John Walker was heavily involved in the creation of the Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial.
DEDICATION: John Walker was heavily involved in the creation of the Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial. David Nielsen

Hats off to our hero volunteers

WATCHING the Australian of the Year awards ceremony from Canberra on Wednesday night and listening to the synopsis of the achievements of all the nominees was quiet uplifting.

Each person across all four categories had achieved so much within their community through helping to make life better for others.

The Australian Local Hero for 2017, Vicki Jellie, is testament of what one person, with determination, can achieve.

In 2009, Vicki Jellie initiated a community group dedicated to fighting for improved cancer services in south-west Victoria.

Despite being told that a cancer centre in Warrnambool would "never happen”, Vicki relentlessly lobbied governments, uniting the community and raising funds.

By May 2014, Vicki secured $30 million combined funding from state and federal governments and the community, meaning a cancer centre could be achieved.

LOCAL HERO: Vicki Jellie.

In July 2016 Vicki and her community celebrated the opening of the new South West Regional Cancer Centre, offering radiotherapy treatment for regional patients.

Vicki has selflessly demonstrated why volunteers are the core of our nation's community and her persistence has proven that "nothing is impossible.”

Vicki's legacy will continue to support all the people facing their cancer battles for generations to come in that community.

And so it is in every community across the country average people volunteering their time and skills working towards making their community a better place in which to live.

In Ipswich last Saturday, seven of our residents received Australia Day Awards for their achievements within the Ipswich Community. And many more were nominated.

John Walker from Brassall was awarded Senior Citizen of the Year.

As secretary/treasurer of the Ipswich-Rosewood Coalminers Trust John was an integral figure in the construction of the mining memorial at Limestone Park.

John dedicated thousands of hours to the cause during a five-year span that resulted in donations of more than $1.2 million.

He has been outstanding in his commitment to this project, working alongside sponsors, donors and fellow trust members to bring the Ipswich-Rosewood Coalminers Memorial to fruition.

Acting as the administrative pivot for the Trust, John's passion for the cause led to the finalisation and illumination of the Columns on December 4, 2016, thereby ensuring an enduring legacy for the 186 men and boys who have lost their lives in underground mining.

As well as all the work he put in to see this vision of the Ipswich-Rosewood Coalminers Trust committee come to fruition he is also a long-standing North Ipswich Rotarian. Involvement in Rotary demonstrates a commitment to community and this can be achieved through their annual offer of opportunity for secondary school students in the Ipswich region to take part in a public speaking competition, Youth Speak.

The competition has been a highlight of the Rotary calendar for over 20 years.

It is people such as John Walker and all the other awards recipients and nominees that make a community worth living in.

Without volunteers Ipswich would not be the great place in which to live that it currently is.