John Cullen has been named the Bega Valley Shire Citizen of the Year for 2022. The awards will be officially presented at a special event in Littleton Gardens Bega on Australia Day, January 26.
John Cullen from Bemboka had a stellar 44-year career in the Rural Fire Service, was an athlete who dedicated many years coaching and umpiring junior sport, and his passion for agricultural shows involves exhibiting, stewarding and judging.
John started his fire service career in 1977. He was deputy fire control officer in the Department of Bushfire Services, fire control officer for the Bega Valley and NSW RFS Far South Coast manager before retiring in 2021.
John has given a lifetime working alongside RFS volunteers and agency staff to protect communities in our district and adjoining states. His leadership during the Tathra, Yankees Gap and Black Summer bushfires demonstrated his commitment to community and was a standout of his career.
John's devoted service was recognised in 2017 when he was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal as part of the Australia Day Honours. He received a Commissioner's Commendation in 2000 for his efforts in bushfire and emergency crises and a National Emergency Medal in 2021 recognising his management of the Black Summer bushfires.
John's sporting prowess began in high school. He was a talented and determined cricketer who represented several local teams. He held records for high jumping and athletics at Bega High School and played rugby league for Bega High, Candelo Bemboka Football Club and South Woden in the ACT.
Another of John's passions is to exhibit, judge and steward in the cattle, fruit and vegetable sections of local shows. He was secretary of Bemboka Showground Trust for 22 years, working as a volunteer to gain improved showground facilities for the community.
John can grow almost anything and generously provides expert support on-site to the Royal Easter Show team's vegetable section. He gives sound advice to young farmers, teaching them the intricacies of livestock production and has worked with high schools in the preparation of their calves for carcass competitions. John and his family are familiar faces at hook and hoof competitions, often taking out most successful exhibitor.
John is an unassuming, quiet person who resolves difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact.
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