“I nearly died on the spot when they called my name.”
David Denning wasn’t expecting to be announced the Manning area’s Citizen of the Year on Australia Day, especially once he was standing on stage with the other nominees.
He said it was a shock to discover he had even been nominated and a big surprise to find out he was the recipient.
“I’m extremely honoured.”
David has lived in the Manning for 10 years, moving from the Hawkesbury area in Sydney where he had owned a building construction company.
“I joined the Old Bar Men’s Shed not long after.”
Since then he has become heavily involved in many community organisations.
It’s incredible to be involved in the community, it just fell into place.David Denning
He is a former president of the Rotary Club of Taree, member of the Friends of the Gallery, board member of Manning Valley Anglican College, warden at the St Johns Anglican Church in Taree, a past president of the Old Bar Men’s Shed and an active member of the Taree Arts Council.
“It’s incredible to be involved in the community, it just fell into place,” he said.
David became a member of Friends of the Gallery before moving to the area, after making a connection with a relative of former gallery director Sue Mitchell, while his wife was in hospital.
After moving to the Manning he volunteered to work on the door at the gallery and do picture hanging, and later decided to join the committee. He is currently the public officer.
Following his wife’s passing in September 2013, he decided to join the Rotary Club of Taree.
“The year before last, 2017/18, I was president of the club and before that I was the community services director.”
David has been a board member of the Manning Valley Anglican College for the past four years.
“When I moved up here we were Anglicans from Sydney and joined the Anglican Church here.”
He’s also a warden of the Anglican Parish of Taree.
“I was a building contractor at a construction company and they wanted someone with building experience on the board. That was during the time Father Keith Dean-Jones was a rector at St John’s.
“A warden is part of the administration team of the church. It’s quite an honour to be a warden, elected by the parish (and approved by the Bishop of Newcastle).”
I was a building contractor at a construction company and they wanted someone with building experience on the board.David Denning
David continues his involvement with the Old Bar Men’s Shed. He held the position of president for four years and has also held the position of secretary/treasurer.
“I’m the project manager at the moment.”
The group is currently starting to build its new shed, which will be located at the Trad Fields in Old Bar.
His involvement with the men’s shed brought him to Taree Arts Council, of which he is a current active member.
He had been approached by the theatre organisation about building sets for its 2013 production of Cabaret and the men’s shed members took on the project.
David went on to design and build the set for 2015’s Mary Poppins (which the men’s shed were also involved in building). He was also the backstage manager for the production.
Last year he headed the Old Bar Men’s Shed group who helped build the sets for Les Misérables (along with others).
David said it is “extremely important” for him to be involved in the community, especially now that he is retired.
“It’s one of the ways to get to know people when you’re arriving in a new town.
“It’s wonderful to put back into the community when you’ve got time of your hands.”
He said when his wife died (his second wife to die from cancer) he questioned whether he should go back to Sydney or stay, but because of his community involvement and friends he stayed. He has also since met his partner, Sandy Outtrim.