Our top citizen shy about title
THE Dalai Lama described people like Jackie Hyam when he said "the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being".
Gympie's Australia Day Citizen of the Year has dedicated nearly four decades to helping others.
And in return she has found inner peace.
By cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others, Mrs Hyam has found the strength to cope with any obstacles encountered over the years.
While volunteering to help the community seems so selfless, it is the principal source of success in life, says the Dalai Lama.
Looking back, Mrs Hyam wouldn't have lived her life any other way. She has gained so many benefits from supporting local charities and community organisations and is "still doing it".
"I love getting involved, meeting new people and doing different things," she told The Gympie Times following the announcement on Australia Day.
While extremely proud of the award, Mrs Hyam does not consider her list of volunteer duties to be exceptional.
Those who nominated her, and the panel that selected Mrs Hyam as the most deserving of the award, thought differently.
For the past 37 years she has been delivering meals for the sick and frail with Meals on Wheels.
The last 33 have also included volunteering at the Uniting Church Day Care at Cooinda and delivering library books to housebound residents.
As if that wasn't enough to do, Mrs Hyam has also volunteered at the Gympie eisteddfodau. This year will be her 35th eisteddfod and her 13th as the honorary secretary.
Not one to sit around and let others do all the work, Mrs Hyam has also been the treasurer of her local Neighbourhood Watch group since its inception about 12 years ago.
Despite all this activity helping the community, one of her proudest moments was doing something thoughtful for her neighbour. The laneway across the road (off Everson Rd) needed a name and the chap living in the lane was a third generation (resident)," she said.
"So I petitioned the council to call it Bowen Lane after his family. All the people in the neighbourhood signed it and I lodged it with council.
"I received a letter that said it was not a laneway, but an entrance to a building."
Council later developed the lane, following its donation of land to Supporting Chemotherapy in Cooloola and the Edmund Rice Learning Centre.
"Blow me down, years later I got a letter from council. I thought 'what have I done' but when I read of the decision to name the lane Bowen Lane I was tickled pink.
"So Bowen Lane exists now. I think I was more chuffed about that than this."
Mrs Hyam plans to continue assisting her chosen organisations and urges younger members of the Gympie community to consider helping others - not just to contribute towards making the Gympie region a wonderful community to live in, but to also find happiness within.