AUSTRALIA DAY: Tonia wades in for school, art, health

ASK Tonia Timmermans what keeps her going and the answer is simple: “Fund-raising is fun.”
The list of community groups the 80-year-old Albury woman has been involved with reads almost like a timeline of her life.
For her efforts, Mrs Timmermans was yesterday named Albury Council’s citizen of the year, an honour that came “as a real surprise”.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said in her quiet and lilting Dutch accent.
“I have just done what I could do to help people or do my job wherever I am.
“It is hard work but it is pleasant work.”
Mrs Timmermans arrived in Australia 53 years ago and immediately threw herself into helping her community.
She worked on committees at Albury Public and Albury High, and helped out with the Scouts while her four children were at home.
She later was a founding member of Friends of the Gallery, which backs the Albury Regional Art Gallery, and is a board member of the Murray Conservatorium.
Then there’s her membership of the Albury hospital auxiliary, the information bureau, and her involvement with the Fight Cancer Foundation which led to her fund-raising for the Albury Wodonga Carers Accommodation Centre — a cause close to her heart.
When her husband — who has since died — fell ill with leukaemia more than a decade ago, Mrs Timmermans had to stay in Melbourne for long periods while he received treatment.
Eventually she had accommodation with several others in the same situation, as opposed to staying alone in a motel.
“It was so good to have someone to talk to, instead of being alone,” she said.
“There wasn’t anything like that for people here in Albury.”
Another tireless fund-
raiser for carers accommodation also received an award yesterday — Alf Armstrong was named volunteer of the year for his 10-year commitment to the cause.
Young citizen of the year is Breanne Shaw who, since being diagnosed with bone cancer at 14, has become an ambassador for children with cancer, raising several thousand dollars.
Now cancer-free, Breanne dedicated her award to “the 38 children I have known who have passed while in hospital”.
Community group of the year went to St John Ambulance.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack also gave a special mayoral award to James Fallon High School’s student well-being achievement team for its work in improving mental health awareness.

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