Dedicated to community

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Anne Ritson has been a dedicated servant of the Boyup Brook community since 1967.
Camera IconAnne Ritson has been a dedicated servant of the Boyup Brook community since 1967. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Since arriving in Boyup Brook in 1967 from Donnybrook, Anne Ritson has been a dedicated member of the Boyup Brook community, holding volunteering posts in a number of community organisations.

In 2018, Anne won Boyup Brook’s Citizen of the Year Award, recognising her long standing contribution to the community.

As part of her responsibilities as citizen of the year, Anne was invited to give the address at the town’s 2019 Anzac Day ceremony.

Remarkably this was not Anne’s first or second time giving the address, having been invited to speak twice previously.

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Her first Anzac Day speech was on the meaning of the Australian flag.

“I was asked because I had already spoken a couple of times around the State about the Australian flag and the meaning of the Australian flag,”

“We fly it, but you have to live by it too.”

Anne started at Girl Guides in 1968, because the then leader was moving to Albany within two weeks.

“Someone had to take it over, so I joined and she left about two weeks later, I had no training, no nothing,” she said.

“I’ve retired a couple of times, but the kids rock up at the front door so someone has to take them.”

Her personal highlight from her time leading Boyup Brook’s Guides are the camps that she had attended with her charges.

Anne attributes her involvement in community service to the example set by her parents.

Her father John Hearman served as Blackwood MLA from 1950 to 1968, representing the Liberal Party.

She followed in her father’s footsteps and is a longtime Liberal Party member, serving as branch secretary for the Boyup Brook branch.

“My father was a politician, but we weren’t forced (to get involved) — any of us — never encouraged or discouraged, it was up to us totally,” she said.

“I suppose being with dad, he went to lots of functions and things, and you were always meeting interesting people.”

During her time with the party she rubbed shoulders with party luminaries including former Prime Minister John Howard and two-time party leader Andrew Peacock.

“I thought I was pretty good friends with John Howard, I used to have to escort him here and there when he was going to a conference,” she said.

“I admired Peacock in that you could take him around the room and introduce everyone and he could go around the room five minutes later and name them all by name.

“Absolutely amazing, because it’s something I can’t do.”

Anne also serves on the Upper Blackwood Agricultural Society as a committee member, adding another line to a resume that includes society secretary and president.

Her start with the society was as secretary and she said in her first year as secretary her workload was equal to the responsibilities of four people.

She has represented the Upper Blackwood Agricultural Society at the Perth Royal Show, manning the society’s district display for a day each show.

In addition to all of her other volunteering responsibilities, Anne delivers communion to elderly residents at Boyup Brook’s hospital, but has been forced to take a break due to COVID-19.

“There might be half dozen different religions, but you give it to them all,” she said.

“It becomes such a part of your life, it is just like a routine and then you’re not seeing them and you miss those people.

“I learn a lot from them, so many of them were vibrant people around the community themselves.”

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