AN animal lover who has dedicated her life to wildlife conservation received the Yarra Ranges citizen of the year award on Saturday.
Denise Garratt, founding member of Help for Wildlife, a 24-hour community-based organisation that looks after distressed animals, said this award was different to others she has received. "It's a special one this one," she said.
The Gruyere resident said helping animals in distress in her local community was a challenging and rewarding job.
"We're there to help wildlife in a disaster. It's a privilege to be able to work in with other groups and do what we can to keep it surviving for the next generation.
"The Yarra Ranges to me is one of the most unique areas in the state . . . we have everything here. We have a wonderful lifestyle, an incredible community and some of the most unique wildlife in the state, which needs looking after. It's pretty fragile out there."
Woori Yallock up-and-comer Breanna Andersen was named young citizen of the year.
The dedicated 18-year-old is a member of the Hillcrest Fire Brigade; he volunteers at Lilydale Youth Services and encourages other young people to get involved in the community.
"I wanted to help those less fortunate than me; that's pretty much it. The people are so grateful I find . . . they're so welcoming to what you can do for them."
Mt Evelyn-based Melba Support Services was named community group of the year.
Other winners were:
■ Environmental achiever of the year: Vicki Boyle (Selby)
■ Young environmental achiever of the year (Ken McIntosh memorial award): Erin Burton (Belgrave)
■ Ian De La Rue community leadership award: Rodney Woods (Wesburn)
■ Mayor's lifetime achievement award: Dr Bill Hardy (Mt Evelyn; posthumous award)
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