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Environment wins at Citizen of the Year awards

Published on Friday, 27 January 2023 at 9:00:12 AM

Propagating seagrass to redevelop and restore key marine precincts in Albany’s waters has won local marine scientist Geoffrey Rowland Bastyan the Albany Citizen of the Year Award for 2023.

Mr Bastyan was nominated for the award in recognition of his passion and work to ensure the waters of Princess Royal Harbour, Middleton Beach and Oyster Harbour remain pristine. He began voluntarily monitoring the Oyster and Princess Royal harbours in 1988, discovering that more than 80 per cent of seagrass had vanished.

Since then Mr Bastyan has transplanted hundreds of hectares of seagrass and encouraged residents to plant trees and take care of the precincts around these waters, successfully restoring them into thriving and pristine ecosystems.

Mayor Dennis Wellington said Mr Bastyan’s work will have a profound impact into the future.

“It has enabled marine life to return, fishing industries to thrive and the waters of Albany to be cleaner than ever. His findings here in Albany have also informed studies across the State,” he said.

“With his work extending to school science curriculums and university lectures it is comforting to know that there is a legacy of Geoff’s that will remain for years to come.”

Angus Bowles was awarded Young Citizen of the Year, nominated for his work with Albany Surf Life Saving Club. Whether it is patrolling, coaching, nipper training, officiating, water safety, first aid, assisting at the canteen or event work, Angus pitches in whenever needed.

Senior Citizen of the Year was awarded to Robert (Bob) Rees whose passionate advocacy in the disability sector since becoming a wheelchair user himself in 2019 has inspired others in the community. An active and valued member of the City’s Access and Inclusion Working Group, Bob has become a valuable voice for those living with a disability and is making positive and visible change.

The two nominations for the Active Citizenship Community Group or Event category displayed such similar attributes when analysing the selection criteria that the judging panel decided it was unfair to pick a winner.

“Judging the Citizen of the Year awards is one of the proudest moments of the year when we get to see a snapshot of the fantastic work our community do for each other,” Mayor Wellington said.

“It is also the hardest moment of the year where everyone deserves recognition for the part they play in making Albany great. Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who was nominated.”

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