STALWART: Volunteer Rita Langer cooks up a storm at the annual Blair State School State of Origin BBQ.
STALWART: Volunteer Rita Langer cooks up a storm at the annual Blair State School State of Origin BBQ. Rob Williams

Time to honour lifeblood of the community

VOLUNTEERS are the lifeblood of our society.

Without them, sporting clubs, community groups and not-for-profit organisations of all persuasions simply would not exist.

The 2017 Blair Volunteer Awards are an opportunity to recognise those hard working citizens in the Ipswich and Somerset regions.

An initiative of Blair MP Shayne Neumann and Volunteer Services Australia, nominations are now open in a wide variety of categories including sports, youth, seniors, the arts and culture.

Mr Neumann will also select the MP's Volunteer of the Year.

"There are 6.1 million Australians who volunteer every year and they contribute 750 million hours to the community each year,” he said.

"So I think it is very important to honour volunteers who build communities, strengthen relationships, connect people with one another and strengthen our civic life.

"I have been doing the (Blair Volunteers Awards) for years and every year I like to honour volunteers in different categories.”

Ian Dainer of the Willowbank Area Residents' Group (WAG) and Ipswich Railway RSL Sub-Branch is a previous winner of volunteer of the year.

The award has also gone to Steph Shannon, former head nurse of the Ipswich Hospital children's ward, for her extraordinary work at Hilda's House and Ipswich Hospice.

George Hatchman, president of WAG and a committed volunteer himself, said vice-president Mr Dainer epitomised what community service was all about.

"Ian is a dynamic community supporter,” he said.

"He is totally committed.

"Besides supporting me with the Willowbank Area Residents Group he is probably the force behind veterans' issues in Ipswich. He is also a voluntary JP and does his duties every week.

"He was in the air force with 23-squadron and was my CO (commanding officer). Now he is my lieutenant so to speak and I have a lot of respect for him.

"I think volunteers carry the community. They don't get paid. You can't leave everything to bureaucrats because they can't reach out and know everything that is going on in the community because of the manpower costs.

"Volunteers know the heart of the community, and what is needed, because they know the people and how to get the results they want.”

The list of Ipswich volunteers is endless.

One of the QT's favourites is Rita Langer, the mother of Allan Langer, who is well known for her own contributions at the Blair State School tuckshop and Norths Tigers canteen.

Volunteers like Mrs Langer don't just give of their time every now and then. They volunteer year after year and become iconic figures in the community.

Mr Neumann said it was fitting that such service be honoured.

"I've been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic volunteers over my time as the Member for Blair, and I'd urge anyone who knows someone worthy of recognition to put them forward for an award,” he said.

  • Nominations are open until August 18. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact the Blair Electorate Office on 3201 5300 or email Shayne.Neumann.MP@aph.

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