Mark Parre’s long-time service and dedication to helping the environment saw him named the Denmark citizen of the year at a volunteer sundowner on Saturday night. He said the award was a great honour and surprise, but also great timing as he had recently retired from working for the Shire of Denmark after 30 years. “I’ve been volunteering for about the same amount of time with various groups — whether teaching or being involved in planting,” he said. “It’s a lovely way to give back and it’s a lovely thing to be involved in. “So many times we feel we’d love to do something, but we are powerless because we don’t know how we can get in there. “With volunteer groups, they pave the way, they lay it open. “You can go and give back to the Earth and it makes your heart feel good.” He said much of his volunteer work was with the Lowlands Coastal Group at Young’s Siding where he was involved in revegetation, as well as with Denmark Weeds Action Group. “I do volunteer work and work in revegetation to give back to the planet because she needs all the help she can get at the moment,” he said. “Those of us who know how should be making things better so that the future generations can enjoy what we’ve enjoyed growing up, which is lovely nature all around us.” Annabelle Adams received the youth citizen of the year for her contribution to volunteer fire brigades. An extract from her nomination said Annabelle had “been a committed member of the volunteer fire service in Denmark joining after her school cadet program” and had “shown amazing potential moving forward in her volunteering”. Denmark Bird Group’s Bradley Kneebone took out the honour of being named senior citizen of the year. Mr Kneebone, who is also part of the South Coast Management Group, has actively spent the last 20 years promoting birdlife biodiversity by undertaking studies and surveys. Mr Parre said the awards were well-timed because Mr Kneebone had been someone who had driven his own passion for volunteering and helping the environment. Group citizen of the year was awarded to Denmark Village Theatre which has entertained the community for more than 40 years. It was the first time Denmark’s citizen of the year awards had been handed out at this time of year rather than Australia Day since the council made a decision to move the annual awards last September. More than 100 members of the community packed into the event at the Denmark Riverside Club as a celebration of volunteers at the end of National Volunteer Week. Shire of Denmark president Ceinwen Gearon told the crowd that census data showed Denmark continued to have a higher rate of volunteering than the national average. “In Denmark about 30 per cent of our population are volunteers,” she said. “In WA it’s 16 per cent and across Australia it’s 14 per cent, so we are more than double the State and national average — that’s pretty impressive. “However the data show there has been a 0.5 per cent decrease in Denmark, that’s unfortunately a growing trend across Australia.” Mr Parre said it spoke to the character of Denmark that so many people had turned out for the volunteer sundowner, and continued to volunteer in the community. “People are happy to give their time to give back to the community and the place they live in,” he said.