Honours for our finest

Macedon Ranges Citizen of the Year Robert Renton. Pic Marco De Luca

By Jessica Micallef

Woodend’s Shaylyn Blyth and Kyneton’s Jessica Cockerill-Wright have both received Macedon Ranges Young Citizen of the Year awards.

And on Saturday, Robert Renton was named Citizen of the Year for his work as a pension and welfare officer at Kyneton RSL.

Ms Blyth, 17, was a proud recipient of the honour at the Macedon Ranges council’s 2019 Australia Day awards celebration at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute on Saturday.

She told

Star Weekly she was overjoyed to have received the award.

“It’s kind of insane to me because I used to just be this little girl in the background, helping out and not really taking credit,” she said.

“To actually be recognised on such a high level … it just blows my mind.”

Ms Blyth has worked with Cobaw Community Health’s House of Awesome projects to improve the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community.

She has also created a healthcare video to encourage local GPs to be more inclusive and has been involved with her Pride Crew, a group she co-founded at Gisborne Secondary College.

“There was nothing in the school for LGBT students and we started it up with the help of Cobaw and it’s been booming ever since,” Ms Blyth said. “It’s mostly to support members of the group but also just for anyone to show acceptance and inclusivity.”

Ms Blyth said she hoped her award would encourage young people to get out in to the community.

“I don’t think my life would be the same if I didn’t help others and I hope that there’s some little kid out there who’s wanting to make a change,” she said. “I don’t do this stuff to get recognition – I do it because it makes me happy.”

Ms Cockerill-Wright, 23, was the first woman at the Kyneton CFA to be elected to the position of lieutenant in its 134-year history.

She has been with the CFA for 10 years.

“When I was younger, there was a bushfire at the back of our old house and I remember seeing truck after truck go past,” she said.

“I just thought, ‘That looks cool’ … I wanted to join.”

She said community safety was a big part of being involved with the CFA and that she regularly visited schools to promote the message.

“If you can start teaching kids young about fire safety, then I think it progresses up through there,” she said.

Doctor Jacqueline Ogeil received the Arts Ambassador award, Jason Azzopardi took out the Community Achievement award and the Malmsbury Town Hall 150th birthday celebration received the Community Event award.


Young Citizen of the Year Shaylyn Blyth Pic: Damjan Janevski
Young Citizen of the Year Jessica Cockerill-Wright. Pic Shawn Smits