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    Bequest Awarded in Honour of Local Landcare Legend

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    The 2021 annual John Winter-Irving Bequest recipient has been announced as local Armidale Rivercare Group founding member, Mr Bruce Whan.

    Southern New England Landcare has awarded the 2021 John Winter-Irving Bequest to Bruce Whan with congratulations for his long-term service to the Armidale community, and particularly Dumaresq Creek.

    Bruce's first reaction when receiving the award was one of shock.

    "I was stunned," he said, "I had no idea!"

    Bruce was on the original Armidale Council Creekland Vegetation Committee and his involvement has only increased since then.

    While working at UNE, Bruce was involved in environmental flow work on Dumaresq Creek.

    He established and participated in the first planting along the creek by a Landcare group around Claude Street in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Landcare was just a fledgling organisation.

    As a founding member, Bruce helped establish Armidale Urban Rivercare Group as a sub-group of Southern New England Landcare Ltd, in 2002, and still plays an active role in its management.

    Between 2002 and 2018, Bruce's work with Armidale Urban Rivercare Group has been impressive:

    • Applying for multiple grants for all environmental works along Dumaresq Creek
    • Planting upwards of 80,000 native plants
    • Removing in excess of 5500 tonnes of woody weeds across approximately 10 ha of the creeklands
    • Rehabilitating 8.9 km of Armidale’s riparian corridor
    • Facilitating $250,000 worth of direct investment and more than $1.15 M total investment in the creeklands.

    Bruce is currently actively engaged in grant applications and administration, including group planning and guidance of activities.

    He has developed diverse group membership including schools, University students, Scouts and local families.

    He gets his hands dirty too, clearing exotic weeds, preparing sites for plantings and organising community working bees along the creek.

    And it doesn't stop there... Once planted, these areas require care and maintenance - weeding, and in very dry times, even watering. Bruce does this both as a volunteer and a contractor.

    As the results along the creek have gained notoriety, Bruce has been asked to present to visitors to Armidale, including at national conferences held at the University of New England and The Armidale School.

    It was with great sadness that the Landcare community experienced the sudden and unexpected loss of the network’s highly esteemed and hard-working Chairman, Mr John Winter-Irving, in September 2011.

    John died while working on one of the six properties that he ran with the help of his wife Ona, on behalf of the family partnership.

    He was in the third year of his Chairmanship of Southern New England Landcare at the time, and had been shown dedication to Landcare for nearly 20 years, bringing a perspective that balanced traditional agricultural with alternative environmental approaches.

    The Board of Southern New England Landcare Ltd has the honour of administering the John Winter-Irving bequest on behalf of the Winter-Irving family each year.

    "My congratulations and appreciation go to Bruce for all the hard work he's done over so many years,” said Ona Winter-Irving.

    "The work he has done with Armidale Urban Rivercare and the Dumaresq Creek is wonderful, an extraordinary achievement, and a marvellous legacy for Armidale and its residents," she said.

    The bequest is to be used as a study grant in an activity of the recipient’s choosing, in the field of sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, rural or regional development or leadership.

    “I’ll look towards furthering my knowledge with it,” said Bruce.

    “But I’d also like to honour John Winter-Irving in some way,” he said.

    Southern New England Landcare recognises that Bruce is the key to the success of Armidale Urban Rivercare Group’s progress through a combination of leading by example, essential contact with local government, a vision for restoration of the creek lands and the ability to make it happen.

    Photo: Members of Southern New England Landcare presented Bruce Whan with the John Winter-Irving Bequest at the Armidale Creeklands on Thursday. L-R: Struan Ferguson, Bryan Johnston, Jill Moore-Kashima, Karen Zirkler, Bruce Whan, Bev Stubberfield, and Peter Metcalfe. Image courtesy of Alex Hunter.

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