For a group that has only been in action since around June 2022 the Guyra and Community Progress Association is doing some big things.
Off the back of being recently awarded $157,765 as a part of the Stronger Country Communities Fund, Guyra locals can expect to see some changes around the town this year. Amplified by Guyra’s loss of their local Council to a merger with the larger Armidale Regional Council, Progress Association President Donna Davidson says that there was “a general feeling in the town that things weren’t changing.”
Ms Davidson says that the idea for the Association came from “a handful of passionate Guyra people wanting to make stuff happen.”
So Ms Davidson and around 12 other locals got together and had a meeting with General Manager James Roncon and other representatives from the Armidale Council, who she says have all been “extremely supportive”.
From here the Guyra and Community Progress Association was born, becoming what Ms Davidson describes as the “local voice in Council” for residents in the Guyra Region.
When applications opened for another round of grants through the Stronger Country Communities Fund a community ideas box was quickly implemented. From here the idea was ready to be pitched and the association sat down with the team from Inverell’s Ladybug Projects, who specialise in grant preparation.
Ms Davidson says it is “still surreal being awarded a grant from what started as a couple of ladies around a kitchen table”.
But she and her fellow team of motivated locals are certainly seeing their dreams for the region come to fruition.
Ms Davidson said she had been told they were in with a good chance of getting some money in the next round of Grant offerings, but never in their wildest dreams did they expect to be awarded as much as they were.
The official PR release from local MP Adam Marshall’s page states that this particular grant has been awarded to Guyra to “bring more life and activity to the community, with a range of new arts, projects and initiatives”.
The main focus for the spending of grant money stems from one of the biggest concerns continually raised in the community ideas box, and through Progress Association meetings – attracting people, particularly travellers, into town.
Planning is now officially under way to put the grant money into action. There has already been a tender successfully won by renowned local stonemason Paul “Fox” Kirk, who will be installing some bespoke stone feature walls at Guyra’s main entrance points.
Local Artist Kay Smith has also been commissioned to paint some murals depicting the town’s heritage in prominent locations.
A further plan to light up the trees in the main street of town is hoped to entice both locals and tourists alike to step out in the evening an,d enjoy some of Guyra’s local eateries.
Armidale Council is also on board pitching in some much-needed funds, paying for the most recent addition of a new regional promotional billboard installed on the way into town. The billboard includes a photo submitted by a local resident and design work by local graphic artist Bronwyn Grills.
It’s not just tourists who are being targeted with these funds, however, with the remainder of grant monies being dedicated towards community activities.
When asked what these events will be, Ms Davidson says they’re “still in planning mode” for the year however a Christmas Event in the main street is a definite, with the rest to be discussed at this month’s meeting.
“We want to bring back some of the community spirit that has been lost over the years.”
Ms Davidson also wanted to extend a very warm welcome to anyone who may be interested in participating in the Association. Membership is $25 for 12 months and the calendar of events is both social and business.
Association meetings are held once a month on a Thursday at the Guyra Bowls Club.
“I prefer to call our meetings gatherings or get-togethers.”
“We’re movers and shakers who get together to get things done and yes, we take minutes and do all the official things but it’s a casual setting and we want people to enjoy being a part of the Association”, Ms Davidson comments.
Top image: Celebrating a funding win for the proactive Guyra & Community Progress Association, Secretary Sonya Wallbridge, left, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall MP and President Donna Davidson.
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