For their tireless dedication to the community, Dr Derek Pope and his wife Jan were honoured with the 2022 Ararat Citizen of the Year at the Australia Day Awards Ceremony on January 26.
Dr Derek Pope practised at Ararat Medical Centre for 36 years, and Jan has a long history of volunteering in the community.
Cr Bob Sanders said it gave him "great satisfaction" to award Jan and Derek with their award.
"When we talk about partnerships, there is none more important than Dr Pope's partnership with Jan," he said."
Nobody can take on the responsibility for becoming such a respected, caring and reassuring figure for an entire community on their own."
"That's why Dr Pope's lifetime of service to Ararat and the district is equalled by Jan's steadfast support and her own voluntary service."
Cr Sanders said rural communities often face challenges attracting and retaining great doctors; however, thanks to Dr Pope, "that has not been our experience in our Ararat".
"Dr Pope has been the cornerstone of our health service.
"He has cared for our children as they enter this world and for those who need compassion and care as they leave it."
Cr Sanders said Jan Pope's history of volunteering in Ararat is " a long one" and worth the recognition.
"Her warmth, cheerful presence and beautiful songs have endeared her to some of the most vulnerable and often lonely community members," he said.
Mrs Jan Pope said she was "very humbled and chuffed" to receive this award.
"I have always enjoyed being part of the Ararat community and volunteering has had its own rewards for me," she said.
"Derek and I love living here, and community involvement gives us the satisfaction of belonging.
"Ararat is a great place to live."
The couple met through a shared passion of art and performance at the Ararat Musical Comedy Society.
"Ever since I was a child, I have had a passion for singing," Mrs Pope said.
"I have loved being part of the Musical Comedy Society since my teens."
Mrs Pope started volunteering with her parents at a young age.
She ran discoes and taught the 'Learn to Dance' sessions at the Uniting Church, Town Hall, J Ward, Aradale, Drill Hall and Pleasant Creek.
Mrs Pope also joined the St Johns Ambulance Brigade, providing first aid and secretarial services at local events, and she has sung at local aged care facilities for many years.
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