Bowen Citizen of the Year Gary Martin with his award at the Australia Day Awards Presentation at Bowen Golf Club. Photo: Elyse Wurm
Bowen Citizen of the Year Gary Martin with his award at the Australia Day Awards Presentation at Bowen Golf Club. Photo: Elyse Wurm

Council, aged care, hospital: Years of service recognised

Nearly 50 years ago Gary Martin was asked by a shire engineer what he was doing on the weekend, because his help could be used to get a new aged care facility off the ground.

While Mr Martin admitted he probably had fishing on the mind, he agreed to help out with the engineering works.

That was his first foray into supporting Murroona Gardens and now he has been recognised for his service to the facility, and other community groups, with the Bowen Citizen of the Year Award.

Mr Martin said he was very grateful and honoured to receive the award.

"When you take on these roles you do it for the betterment of the community," he said.

"When you start off you don't expect this."

 

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While operating successful business Marto's Mangoes alongside his family, Mr Martin also spent a decade working with the council and has volunteered his time to serve on numerous committees.

He joined the Murroona Gardens board in the late 1990s and has been chairman of the board for the past eight years.

He also served eight years on the NQ Dry Tropics board and remains a member of the community reference group for Bowen Hospital.

"They're very worthy causes, every one of those are working for the community," Mr Martin said.

"We've got a great town and great lifestyle here and it can only get better if we do our bit."

Bowen mango orchard Marto's Mangoes is owned by the Martin family (from left) Ben Martin, Ash-lei Martin, Bernadette Martin and Gary Martin. Picture: Nadine O'Neill
Bowen mango orchard Marto's Mangoes is owned by the Martin family (from left) Ben Martin, Ash-lei Martin, Bernadette Martin and Gary Martin. Picture: Nadine O'Neill

When Mr Martin looks back on the early days of Murroona Gardens, he recalls the funding for the first wings was contributed from the community.

Mr Martin said the site was filled by operators in town and volunteers also leant a hand, probably thanked with a beer and steak afterwards.

While the facility has grown and developed immensely since then, a significant period of that development was over the past five years while Mr Martin was at the helm as chairman of the board.

He drove a development worth more than $14 million that resulted in major upgrades including creating 32 single ensuite rooms, renovating the wellness centre, building a cafe, major refurbishments to the Wattle Wing, establishing separate areas for families to meet with residents and creating outdoor areas to play bocce and lawn bowls.

The community-owned facility now boasts 104 licensed beds, 80 units, 120 staff, 20 home care clients and 25 community clients.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen threw his support behind the proposed multimillion dollar new accommodation wing and facility upgrade at Murroona Gardens back in 2015. He’s pictured here with board chairman Gary Martin after a development application was submitted to Whitsunday Regional Council. Photo: Nadine O’Neill
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen threw his support behind the proposed multimillion dollar new accommodation wing and facility upgrade at Murroona Gardens back in 2015. He’s pictured here with board chairman Gary Martin after a development application was submitted to Whitsunday Regional Council. Photo: Nadine O’Neill

"We acknowledged the need to upgrade and put a strategic plan in place," Mr Martin said.

"Step by step we planned it, in steps we could afford."

Mr Martin said the Murroona Gardens board was full of "fantastic people" who have seen the project through to fruition.

"When you see the level it is now, it's ensuring those people in the community that have served the community in the past are taken care of," he said.

Mr Martin was recognised at an Australia Day Awards Ceremony alongside other hardworking Bowen residents.

A 2011 gathering of then Minister for Main Roads Craig Wallace, Whitsunday Regional Council councillor Peter Ramage, Whitsunday Regional Council Director of Transport and Infrastructure Gary Martin and Regional Director Main Roads Ian Husband.
A 2011 gathering of then Minister for Main Roads Craig Wallace, Whitsunday Regional Council councillor Peter Ramage, Whitsunday Regional Council Director of Transport and Infrastructure Gary Martin and Regional Director Main Roads Ian Husband.

Here's a rundown of all the Bowen award winners:

- Citizen of the Year: Gary Martin

- Young Citizen of the Year: Bowen State High School Senior Student Leadership Team

- Senior Citizen of the Year: Christine Coventry

- Junior Sportsperson Award: Shaniece Cora

- Senior Sportsperson Award: Temone Power

- Sports Administrator Award: Darren and Monika Piggott

- Senior Cultural Award: Barbara Kwaak

- Junior Cultural Award: Hayley Smith

- Community Event of the Year: 2020 Don River Dash

For a list of all the winners from around the Whitsundays, click here.


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