Philosophy leads to council honour

SKATE: Murray River Council's Citizen of the Year, Graham Minnis will help upgrade the Barham skate park.

SKATE: Murray River Council's Citizen of the Year, Graham Minnis will help upgrade the Barham skate park.

BARHAM resident, Graham Minnis has a philosophy - if you see something that needs doing, you do it. 

If you can't do it, you find someone who can.

This philosophy helped Mr Minnis receive Murray River Council's Citizen of the Year award - which will be presented at Australia Day celebrations on Friday - and when he talks about his life story it's easy to see it in action. 

This philosophy has carried him through life, through a career as a high school science teacher, as a Scout leader and president of its parents committee, as secretary of the Barham Show Committee, and as a member of the Lions Club of Barham Koondrook, where he led the Junior Public Speaking group as chairman and participated in distributing fruit fly traps, and most recently, on the Barham Skate Park Redevelopment Committee.

It's enough to make one dizzy, but Mr Minnis isn't fazed - he said he has few plans to retire, especially with the skate park project just taking off.

Mr Minnis said that his passion for young people is what led him to the skate park project, although he admitted he would never get on a skateboard himself.

"Young people are an important part of the community and if you don't have things going for the youth of the community then the community will start to fall apart very quickly," he said.

"We also look [at the park] from a tourism point of view - there's not a lot for teenagers to do if you're visiting." 

The park is due to start development in the next few weeks with an expected completion date of mid-year. 

The other big project Mr Minnis is still working on is the Junior Public Speaking group.

"One of the Lions Club members came up with the concept of a junior public speaking group for primary school students so I worked with her developing that idea," he said. 

"She had a young family so she couldn't really get involved further - so I took it over and it became a Lions' district club, right along the Murray from Swan Hill to the mountains," he siad.

"Then I got involved with making it a national project too." 

Mr Minnis and his wife, Margaret moved to Barham 45 years ago, initially for a two- year contracted role at the high school.

"It definitely wasn't the plan [to stay here]," he said.

"We were living in Goulburn, and I said to Margaret I'd been appointed here and she said 'where is it?' I said 'well, we better get a map out and see if we can find it - we'd never heard of it!'"

It was eventually decided that they would stay there and raise their own family, who were proud but not surprised at his award.

"My son says it's about time," Mr Minnis said. 

Mr Minnis himself was surprised though.

"I was a bit surprised, yeah. I was nominated by the Lions Club and I'm very grateful that they recognised what I've done. It's a pretty big honour," he said.

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