The words Tatura and Gunna go hand in hand when passion and determination for the town is concerned.
But now there are three more words added to the mix, Kevin ‘‘Gunna’’ Ryan awarded Order of Australia.
It has been a long 40 years for Mr Ryan continuously contributing to the community and an even bigger year already receiving Tatura and District Citizen of the Year and now an OAM.
Mr Ryan started his journey with council in 1972 at the Shire of Rodney.
‘‘As a 24 year old it rocked me a little bit and I had to make up my mind; I had three young kids and I was on a dairy farm and being a councillor meant that you were going to be away quite some time, so I discussed it with my wife and she got behind me,’’ Mr Ryan said.
At the time Mr Ryan wasn’t considering staying on in council for 40 years, but continued to fight for rural communities.
Joining City of Greater Shepparton Council in 1994 saw Mr Ryan become deputy mayor and respected councillor.
‘‘I was deputy mayor to just about everybody that came in and I was very proud to be asked every time someone new was nominated for mayor,’’ Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan described his time in council as ‘‘always a bridesmaid, never the bride’’.
‘‘Probably one of my greatest disappointments was never taking on mayor, but you had to be realistic and to be the Mayor was a full-time job and I knew I couldn’t do it justice and do what Greater Shepparton deserved,’’ he said.
The first time Mr Ryan stood for council he lost by more then 50 votes.
‘‘The electoral commission wouldn’t let me use the name ‘‘Gunna’’. I had to stand as Kevin Ryan and I got beaten by about 50 or 60 votes because no-one knew me as Kevin.
‘‘The next term I stood as Kevin ‘‘Gunna’’ Ryan and I got in,’’ Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said there were two projects that stood out from his time on council as personal and memorable.
‘‘Tatura Park is my most memorable development, watching dairy week grow bigger and bigger every year and opening up the multi-purpose arena,’’ he said.
He said the second most memorable project was the push to make the City of Greater Shepparton the major tourist and sporting capital of Australia.
‘‘That’s the proudest moment that I’ve got as far as a long-term sustainable development, to brand ourselves as the major tourist and sporting capital of Australia,’’ Mr Ryan said.
‘‘Now when you look around Shepparton it’s ‘no vacancy, no vacancy, no vacancy’, so it’s created a problem, but what a problem to have,’’ he said.
Mr Ryan said he would be receiving this award because of the people who have worked beside him.
‘‘All the work that I have done, it has always been in conjunction with a group of people that all have the same wish to better the town,’’ he said.
Mr Ryan describes his life now as an ‘‘old feather duster that is still being used at council’’.
‘‘I’m very proud to have been a part of it for over 40 years and I can assure you it won’t finish, people still see me as a councillor,’’ he said.
Mr Ryan said he would continue to push council for more industrial land and any issues that affected the growth of Tatura.
‘‘It’s ironic, I get this award and the bollards are shifted in a matter of days,’’ he said.
Kevin ‘‘Gunna’’ Ryan’s service achievements:
●Shire of Rodney 1972-1994
●City of Greater Shepparton 1994-2016
●Tatura Football Netball Club 1959-1990
●Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club 1986-1990
●Goulburn Valley Community Radio Station One FM 98.5 — Life member
●Tatura Park — 1987
●Waranga Basin Foreshore Committee — six years
●Tatura Sale Yards-Shepparton Regional Sale Yards — 32 years
●Victorian Municipal Sale Yards Association — 10 years
●Tatura Fire Brigade — five years
●Harston Youth Club — seven years