Thunderous applause was heard in George Town as the citizen of the year was announced.
Michael Francis Barrenger was born 12th April 1956, and in April 2021 Mike will have served with the Tasmanian Ambulance Service for 44 years and four months. After gaining accreditation as a paramedic he continued his studies both in Tasmania and Melbourne. Mike is actually an Intensive Care Paramedic and George Town has been very lucky to have a dedicated member of the community with such accreditation for the past 37 years.
In his younger years Mike did an apprenticeship in sheet metal and he was awarded as a top apprentice. He originally joined Ambulance Tasmania as volunteer serving in his spare time working in George Town. It was during this time he met his wife Lisa and had three children and now enjoy their grandchildren.
Mike was a member of George Town Rotary Club for a number of years, and was credited with re-starting Apex in George Town after it had folded some years before. From the beginning of his 37 years in George Town, Mike has always been proud of his membership with the local RSL. He has always been on hand at Anzac and Remembrance services to help with setting up and providing medical backup for these events.
It would be hard to find anyone in the George Town Municipality that have not had their lives touched by Mike in some way. His is a face that the George Town community has come to know and respect. A face that has given comfort to families in their worried times, who has helped young couples see new life enter the world and has dealt with things we dare not to think of.
Mike received his award briefly in-between calls, ready to leave early if needed, having been rostered on to work for Australia day.
Speaking to Tamar Valley News, Mike said he was proud to receive the award, but emphasised the support he had to get it.
“It’s not something that I’ve done on my own. I’ve had a heck of a lot of support from volunteers over the years, literally hundreds and not to mention the problems that have occurred over the year’s family wise, with being called out all hours of the day and night, missing all the kids developmental stages and all that sort of business, my wife has played a big part in that.”
When asked how Mike finds time amongst his busy schedule to give back to much to the community, he said it came down to being something he enjoys.
“It’s something that I enjoy, doing service work. Apex, rotary, the RSL, its just interests and you like to see these things flourish, especially in a small town like George Town which has been great to me and my family.”
Mike also offered some advice to those who want to give back to their local community.
“Just get involved. Everyone’s got a few minutes to spare.”
“There’s people out there that could really use the help just for a few minutes a day or a few hours a week and that’s where you get a lot of benefit and you become a part of the community by doing it.”
George Town also congratulated the dual winners of it’s community event of the year award, which this year was split between the Weymouth Community Family Fun Day and the New Years Eve Extravaganza 2020.
The Weymouth Community Family Fun Day was organised by the Weymouth progress association.
Weymouth is a small seaside coastal village, a community of permanent residents and holiday makers. In 2020 the Weymouth Progress Association (a group of voluntary community members) was unable to conduct their usual activities and events due to the pandemic so channeled their energy to resource and organise an event that would bring residents together after the long months of Covid 19 restrictions. It had to be fun and relaxed, for all residents young and old, to enjoy and reconnect and celebrate. The Association successfully applied for the George Town Council Covid 19 Event Recovery grant, which enabled the Association to resource all their ideas for this event.
The event was an outstanding success, with over 150 Weymouth residents in attendance. Aided by beautiful weather, a celebration and unveiling of the mural installation on the rear of the tennis court shelter, a jumping castle, face painting for the children, a BBQ cooked by the local experts, wonderful cheese platters to accompany the beverages brought by the patrons, all while enjoying the music provided by Big Al, made for the perfect evening. The older children entertaining themselves, playing beach volleyball on the playground and cricket on the tennis courts. People were happy, sitting with friends and family, soaking up the atmosphere in a Covid 19 friendly environment.
The dedicated committee of the Weymouth Progress Association, have the appreciation that events don’t need to be complicated, great music and food, BYO beverages some entertainment for the kids can bring a smile to everyone’s face. The Association has been swamped with requests to hold similar events in future, and intend to do so.
The New Year’s Eve Extravaganza 2020 was a joint effort between The George Town Neighbourhood House and the Crazy Duck.
The event organisers delivered a professional and successful New Year’s Eve event, with two fireworks displays at 9.30pm and midnight to celebrate the coming of the New Year. This event catered for all ages and was free entry between 5pm – 9pm with lots of family attractions including pony rides & petting zoo, zorb balls, train rides, swing cars and mechanical bull. Throughout the event there was live music, food and beverage stalls, performances from various artists including from Bee Bop Dance Studio. Between 9pm-midnight the ticketed event began which offered a wet area, food vans, novelty lighting stall and more live music.
The event was graciously supported by a number of local businesses and was well patronised by the local community who enjoyed a great afternoon and night of good food and marvelous entertainment. All profits from the event will be used to execute this years New Year’s Eve Extravaganza.
If social media is a measure of success then this event blew it out of the park, the community was full for praise on what had been a challenging year for everyone, as the fireworks were enjoyed both sides of the Tamar River.