Retired nurse Sue Adams has been named Guyra's Citizen of the Year for her enduring work with the Can Assist cancer support group and Guyra St Vincents de Paul Conference, and for encouraging older Guyra residents to remain active.
Sue said she felt humble and proud. "There were a lot of nominees who were just as worthy as myself, who do a lot for the community. I was just the one who was chosen this year. I feel very honoured."
Sue received her award at the Guyra Australia Day dinner at the Bowling Club on Saturday night.
Her duties began the next morning. She attended the Australia Day ceremonies in Ben Lomond (where she breakfasted with 'ambassador' Liz Deep-Jones) and in Guyra (where she raised the national flag).
"I love Guyra because of the community spirit," Sue said. "It's a lovely small community, and most people work together."
Sue volunteers her time in many community organisations. She has been on the executive of Guyra Can Assist for seven years; and involved with Guyra St Vincent de Paul for five years, including as president of the Care & Support Conference.
Sue believes older people should exercise daily to keep them mobile. She runs a weekly exercise program for Guyra Home Support Services, and the Heart Foundation walking group three mornings a week. That began when she ran cardio rehab as a community nurse, and continued after her retirement.
Sue is also a member of the Catholic Women's League, and volunteers with Meals on Wheels and Home Support Services medical transport. She has been involved with the Neighbourhood Centre (the Hub at Guyra) for many years, and has been president of the Garden Club for two years.
"People who volunteer do it for the love of what they're doing," Sue said. "You leave whatever you've done for that day, and think: 'Yes, I have made a difference in someone's life; I've made them smile or feel better.' That's what you want to achieve."
Sue and her husband Stephen have lived in Guyra for 34 years, since 1986. She worked for more than a quarter of a century as a registered nurse at the Guyra Hospital until she retired in 2011 at 63.
"I'd retired early enough that I was fit enough to volunteer," she said.
Sue's first stint of volunteering was at a clinic in East Timor, north of Dili, for three months. A daughter also volunteered in the country at the time.
When St Vincent de Paul started up again in Guyra in 2014, Sue volunteered on the welfare care and support side. The proceeds from the store (run by Margaret Day) are used to support the community.
"This year's been tough with the drought and with the bushfires, so it has been a really difficult financial year for most people," Sue said. "So the work that I do for Vinnies is very important."
Sue's next role was volunteering for Can Assist, a charity with 50 branches in NSW that helps country people have access to cancer treatment and care.
"We help people on their cancer journey," Sue said. "We help pay their expenses: their transport, accommodation, medications, power bills; and support them and their families."
Can Assist supports some people even after they recover from cancer. The disease, Sue said, often leaves people with residual issues. Many breast cancer patients, for instance, have lymphedema; Can Assist Guyra helps them pay part of the cost of a massage therapist. Can Assist helps with financial issues for the whole family.
"I feel we do a really good job," Sue said. "Because I have a nursing background, I understand their physical issues, as well as their mental and family issues. It makes it easier for me to offer things I think might help, such as food and petrol cards."
Quite a few members of her exercise groups volunteer with CanAssist and Vinnie's. "I feel as though my influence has rubbed off on them, because they didn't [volunteer] until I was there," Sue said. "It's important to encourage people."
Last year, when Sue was unwell, her volunteers stepped into her roles. "It proved they have the same ethic I do, which is the volunteering ethic I've instilled in all my family, and which was instilled in me as a child," Sue said. "So I feel that's really good; it will keep on going."
Sue sums up the volunteering ethic: "There is always work to be done, and you don't expect any reward. It's just the way you are. You just want to help other people."
She encouraged people to acknowledge the community's volunteers.
"We all just work together for the same purpose: helping the community. I think the Guyra community is very vibrant. Some really sad things have happened, but we're all still here, and we all still want it to succeed. We'll all keep working for it."