VOLUNTEERS from around Armidale celebrated on Wednesday with a well-deserved pat on the back.
Community groups attended a luncheon at Town Hall for the International Day of Volunteers.
Armidale Swimming Club instructor Keith Fleming was awarded the NSW Premier’s Volunteer Recognition award for his 40 years of service to the community.
Mr Fleming said he has been involved in swimming education in Armidale since 1972.
“Unfortunately we have far too many people losing their lives to drowning every year, the under five’s top the list and that is horrific,” he said.
“There are a number of people in this town who still can’t swim, when I arrived in 1972 I was shocked with the numbers.”
Swimming education comes at a price, but at the Armidale Swimming Club learn to swim can be offered for free.
“Most of the swimming education in this town has a dollar sign in front of it, the volunteers at the Armidale Swimming Club do not and as we are true volunteers with tremendous expertise in teaching and swimming we hope that what we do is a start,” Mr Fleming said.
“I recognise that many people require remuneration so they can do it, some of us see a higher agenda so we do it because there is that need, there is pleasure in helping other people.”
A number of volunteer groups from around the community were thanked for their contribution by Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall.
“Volunteerism is absolutely essential for the functioning of our community, in fact all regional communities,” he said.
“Whether you realise it or not, this part of the world, the Northern Tablelands region, has the highest level of volunteerism anywhere in this state.”
Mr Marshall said that without volunteers the community could not successfully function.
“I am grateful and on behalf of the community I want to thank each and every one of you for keeping the community running the way it does and the services you ensure keep going,” he said.
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