RON Sky’s deep love of Wingham and his passion to see others enjoy its beauty and charm has seen him named Rotary’s Citizen of the Year at Saturday’s Australian Day ceremony.
In picking the recipient of the award, Wingham Rotary’s president, Robert Walsh said the club looks for someone who has contributed to a variety of organisations and events over an extended period of time with such contribution adding to the overall benefit of the community, not just the area in which the recipient is involved.
Ron has been a tireless worker for the community for many years ensuring the facilities at the Brush, Chrissy Gollan Park and the barbecue facilities in Central Park are clean and in working order for locals and visitors alike.
He starts his rounds each morning at 6am to ensure that everything is ready for the day – tidying the area, opening the toilets and checking the facilities are working. In the afternoon he returns to close the facilities and hand out maps and brochures to overnight visitors.
He, along with other members from Wingham Advancement Groups (WAG), also returns to remove any graffiti from the area.
He said his motivation is to keep the riverside and Wingham’s parks in their best condition for visitors to town.
Ron Sky has called Wingham home all his life. He completed his schooling in Wingham and then an apprenticeship at West’s Garage before moving to Sydney for a few years.
He returned town and took over Midways Garage which became Sky’s Garage until they sold the business in 1979.
In 1969 Ron was a founding member of the Taree Wingham Gun Club, the first meeting being held in his lounge room. He, along with other original members, worked tirelessly to build the club.
He was secretary for 20 years as well as serving as president and is a life member.
Although no longer a shooter, he is still involved in the club and is also a firearms safety officer, examining applicants for their firearms licence.
When the club was moved from Cedar Party to its current location at the former Wingham race course, Ron was part of the team who built the club’s grounds up from a bare paddock.
“Now the facility is as good as anywhere in Australia,” he said.
Ron said he was given another welcome surprise the day before Australia Day when he discovered a ‘camping welcome sign’ had been erected at Wingham Riverside Reserve by Greater Taree City Council.
Ron was an instigator in getting Wingham Riverside Reserve listed as an approved site for free overnight stays by self contained campervans and caravans.
A traveller himself, Ron has seen first-hand the popularity of sites around Australia that are RV friendly and have facilities like dumping points to attract travellers to town.
He sees the value it brings to Wingham when visitors stay and ultimately spend money while in town.
“It’s a multiplier effect,” he said.
Ron’s vision for Wingham is to progressively increase tourism in town.
“If we manage to make an RV friendly town, untold tourists would come,” he said.
What Ron enjoys most about his community is the friendliness of its people, something he likes to see others experience too.
Ron said the Australia Day award was a big surprise and he appreciates the recognition.
The Skys attend Wingham’s Australia Day ceremony every year so it was no problem for Ron’s wife,
Leonna to get Ron along to the ceremony and keep his nomination a surprise.
“It was a shock. I feel quite honoured that they thought of me,” he said.
Leonna, also a member of Wingham Advancement Group, thinks Ron is well deserving of the award for all his hard work.
She said his family is very proud of his achievements.