COROWA man Peter Wright was honoured by the surprise he received from a letter he thought was a rates bill.
The Volunteer Rescue Association diver has been announced the town’s Citizen of the Year.
“I’ve come a long way since I was known as Pete the Pom,” he said.
“I got a letter naming me and I was stunned, I thought it was just another rate notice from council.”
Mr Wright volunteers as a strapper at the Wahgunyah Football and Netball Club and is an advocate for the Cool Heads Program.
But his main passion is in talking to students about water safety.
“Being a diver you see things that have gone wrong all too often,” Mr Wright said.
“It’s worthwhile being involved in prevention as well as picking up the pieces afterwards.”
Mr Wright, who moved to the district in his late teens without family or friends, was also a Corowa councillor for five years.
“The people here made me feel welcome and I have realised it’s about giving back,” he said.
“Too many people sit back and expect the community to do things without lending a helping hand themselves.
“The community has become a family to me.”
Howlong’s Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year are David Longley and Rorey McNamara, while Jan Doyle is Mulwala’s top citizen.