Citizen of the year’s heartbreak inspires own generosity
A Southern Downs woman who turned her heartbreak into hope has been named our 2021 Citizen of the Year.
Community leader Debbie Wilmot was recognised for her years of contribution to the Stanthorpe sporting association, Stanthorpe Gremlins rugby league club, Stanthorpe cancer support group, Stanthorpe Zonta and more.
Known as the “backbone” of the community, Ms Wilmot said she was completely floored by the win.
“I was very humbled and honoured to be nominated let alone win,” she said.
“When Vic (Pennisi) rang me saying I was nominated I was very thankful someone thought that much of me and the work I do. But when he told me I was the whole Southern Downs citizen of the year, I was blown away.”
Both the award and her work as the cancer support group chairwoman are a heartwarming tribute to her parents.
“Both my parents died from cancer and my sister only just recently,” she said.
“When mum died I had no help. I was a 23-year-old mum with a baby and toddler and a 10-year-old brother I took legal guardianship over.
“It was hard but it made me into the person I am.
“Cancer is one of the most traumatic experiences you get during your lifetime and when people don’t know where to turn or who to go to for support, it means so much to say we’ll walk this road with you.”
Her tireless efforts juggling volunteer commitments with full-time work left supporters like Jenny Lunter inspired by Ms Wilmot’s “humble” heroism.
“If anyone needed a helping hand, she would not hesitate,” she said.
“She’s been in the cancer support group for so long and spearheaded a lot of fundraising for dedicated purposes.
“She genuinely cares about the cause and people.”
A born-and-bred Stanthorpian, Ms Wilmot said the passion for the region meant all the hours never felt like work at all.
“Stanthorpe is a not a community, it’s a family, ”she said.
“When the chips are down, we all help each other. I have nothing but love and respect for our community.”