ANNE Prime has dedicated most of her life to helping people in the Greater Bendigo community.
For the past 24 years, she has been volunteering with the Riding for the Disabled Association of Australia, which helps children and adults with a disability improve their mobility and social skills.
After years of dedication, she has been chosen as the 2020 City of Greater Bendigo Citizen of the Year.
"It's a great honour," she said. "I accept it with much pride and humility because you never expect these things.
"When you start to volunteer for an organisation, all you want to do is help the organisation. You never think about getting anything as great as this. I'm thrilled."
Ms Prime - who is also a member of the Mandurang CFA and the secretary of the Mandurang South Recreation Reserve Committee - said her work with Riding for the Disabled Bendigo was really fulfilling.
"There are just those special moments when children are supposed to be non-verbal and all of a sudden you see them talking to their horse," she said.
"These are the first words that the child may have spoken. This happened in Bendigo about 12 years ago with a particular child.
"You also see a child that has lived their whole life in a wheelchair and all of a sudden you can take them out of that wheelchair put them on a horse, and they have the freedom to go wherever they want to go.
"It's little moments like that that just keep you going forever."
Ms Prime said she wanted to use her platform as Citizen of the Year to continue the work of the Bendigo organisation.
"The Bendigo RDA is very close to going into recess for the first time in 41 years," she said. "We are so short of volunteers that it's a real problem.
"We were trying to come up with some ideas about what we could do for publicity... well, I think I've nailed that!
"I'm going to use this whole year to promote RDA and to get more volunteers. That's my goal for the year."
Bendigo occupational therapist Harley Hayes has also been honoured as the 2020 Young Citizen of the Year.
Mr Hayes mentors other student occupational therapists and is the member of the Bendigo Mental Health Professional Steering Committee.
He also volunteers for the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal and was a winner at the 2019 Australian Allied Health Awards.
"It really is a true honour," Mr Hayes said. "You don't do it for the accolades. You really do it to make a difference in the community.
"We do it just to give back and I think that's what makes Australia so great, that everyone is willing to give a little."
Mr Hayes said he was always passionate about making a difference to people.
"I'm really lucky in the area that I work in that I get to go into people's homes and support families, support children, and support adults, and enable them to live their best lives," he said.
Mr Hayes said he was hoping to use his platform as Young Citizen of the Year to create accessible and inclusive environments for people with a disability.
"There are a couple of really key things and I think everyone has a role in this," he said.
"Everyone can create more inclusive and accessible environments. That's something we can all work on in the future."
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