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2 February, 2022

Citizen Cain

“How I got this, I will never know.”

By Emily Middleton

Those are the words Michael Cain said after realising he was awarded the 2022 Gilgandra Citizen of the Year. Mr Cain was absent from last week’s Australia Day events, however, was still humbled and shocked by the award.

“I was expecting nothing actually. It feels a bit overwhelming I suppose, I’ve never won anything like this in my life,” said Mr Cain.

“I got nominated, and I thought, oh cool I’m a nominee, didn’t think much of it, and next minute I’m citizen of the year!”

Mr Cain works tirelessly at the Australian Indigenous Ministries Church in Gilgandra, coordinating the Work for the Dole Scheme. He is a quiet achiever, who prides himself in his ability to share knowledge and skills with those who may use them to achieve a goal, get a job or better their situation.

Regularly presenting on Gilgandra’s community radio station, WARFM, Mr Cain has his own show. Called Cainey’s Walkabout, the show plays Indigenous, Maori, country, Irish, and other music.

“Anything that comes on really. Except hip hop and rap, I don’t play that stuff.”

As well as his internationally streamed show, Mr Cain volunteers at the Gilgandra Youth Services Breakfast Club. Here, he is a warm, welcoming face for the young people to see.

“I like to give the kids a good start to the day. Make sure they have a good breakfast. As long as they have good food in their stomachs to start the day off, I’m happy. They’re pretty happy with it, the kids, they enjoy it,” he said.

“I enjoy it, I enjoy feeding them, having a yarn to them. Kids are kids, they all have different personalities. I like doing things and helping people out.”

Mr Cain is a proud champion of Jack Towney Aged Care Hostel and takes great pride in the establishment of the facility and council’s management. He was the cook there for about 10-years, before becoming the chairperson of Jack Towney.

“It’s a good thing for the Aboriginal community because its Indigenous, and non-Indigenous. We have a wide range of elderly people who come in there, and half of them just don’t want to leave!

“There’s no discrimination whatsoever, all as one up there.”

Mr Cain is a very quiet achiever and does not expect to receive thanks or praise for what he does for the community. As described in his nomination, “Mr Cain works harder and longer than most people half his age. He is a kind community member who often assists those he believes are and fortunate as himself.”

Citizen of the Year nominees Ash and Lib Walker, with Kathy Bird on behalf of recipient Michael Cain, and nominee Nan Nalder.

Nominees for this year’s award included Nan Nalder, and co-nominees Ash and Lib Walker.

Nan Nalder, alongside Ash and Lib Walker, were Gilgandra’s nominees for the 2022, citizen of the year award.

With over 60 years of service to the Gilgandra Red Cross, Mrs Nalder is a long-term contributor to many organisations in Gilgandra. Currently president, Mrs Nalder is still knitting trauma teddies for young children in hospital.

For the past 40 years, Mrs Nalder has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer. She has spent over 30 years playing the organ for her local church and assisting with tasks as required.

Her skills as a florist a renowned, and it’s never too much trouble for Mrs Nalder to put together an arrangement or posy when needed. As said at the Australia Day celebrations, “Nan has a generous spirit and a big heart”.

“She is also a regular attendee at the Probus Club activities and Red Hatters, she helps out at the Christian Bookshop, and is also a regular volunteer at Cooee Lodge when conditions permit. Nan loves singing and entertaining and was involved for many years with the Gilgandra Entertainers.”

Other nominees, Ash and Lib Walker, have owned the Armatree Hotel since early 2007 and are highly valued and respected thanks to their “can do” attitude, and simply having a go.

As described at the Australia Day celebrations, the pair are about to embark on a new chapter after selling the pub, “however they have transformed a local watering hole into a valued community focal point and must-visit destination for grey nomads and travellers from far and wide; a sought-after venue for weddings, celebrations, events and work functions.”

“Their efforts in the industry have been recognised as NSW Best Bush Pub by the Australian Hotels Association, Awards for Excellence two years in a row (2018 and 2019). There have been many community events and initiatives over the years however, they have always advocated the importance of mental health and resilience particularly during times of drought and hardship.”

Despite COVID-19 restrictions threatening the closing of the hotel, Ash and Lib thought hard about what they could offer, and still found a way to support the community and provide a familiar friendly face during unsettling times. The pair were also involved in helping the Gulargambone community transform the dream of a new preschool into reality.

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