Pictured: Wayne Eccleston (son), Citizen of the Year Helen Eccleston and Sue McGlynn (daughter). (Photo: Tim Warren).

Yesterday at Cootamundra’s official Australia Day ceremony at Jubilee Park, Helen Eccleston was awarded the day’s highest honour – Citizen of the Year.

Helen was recognised for her tremendous efforts in the Cootamundra community, in particular her tireless and astonishing work with the Red Cross.

Helen recommenced her work at the Red Cross in 2003 after returning from her role as National Vice President of VIEW Clubs of Australia – a lady’s organisation.

Helen spoke to The Times post the Australia Day ceremony on her life achievements.

“Anything that’s been charity, that’s what I’ve done all my life, I try to help others,” she said.

“When I came back and finished that, I started volunteering more on a regular basis and I was elected to the role that I’m in now probably 14 years ago. It’s been a gradual process to build it up to where it is today.”

Helen was visually shocked when her name was read out and she made her way to the stage after the announcement of her award.

“It’s a great honour that I don’t think I necessarily deserve,” Helen humbly said.

“As I say, we have a team of people that work with me, and this really belongs to everybody at the Red Cross.

“This means an awful lot to me.”

Helen was one of the instigators in setting up the food bank in Cootamundra, heading out to Grenfell to see the way theirs was run and continually learning on how to make it more efficient and helpful for others.

“There are so many people that we are helping, not just in Coota and right around Young.

“People should know that we will always accept donations, vegetables, and money because we are running on a shoestring budget,” she explained.

Helen orders from the Food Bank at least twice a week – which they must pay for, which can accumulate from around $600-$1000 a week in costs.

The Red Cross doesn’t take that amount of money in a week, so they have to work hard to make ends meet.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have the ex-ser-vices club and the library donate baskets filled up with goodies for us – so that helps,” Helen continued.

“We’ve had a couple of charity bingo nights, which are great, and we have these ladies that are on the pension and come around every fortnight to donate $20, it’s very generous.”

Helen wanted to thank the Cootamundra community for the award.

“To the person or persons that nominated me, thank you so much. It’s a great honour to receive this,” Helen said.

“I just hope that the local community continues to support us so we can support our community back.

“I’m astounded but I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve received this. I’m never short of words, but I am today.”

More Australia Day coverage to come next week.

Tim Warren