Burdekin MP Dale Last presents Bowen Senior Citizen of the Year Chris Coventry with her award at the Australia Day Awards Presentation. Photo: Elyse Wurm
Burdekin MP Dale Last presents Bowen Senior Citizen of the Year Chris Coventry with her award at the Australia Day Awards Presentation. Photo: Elyse Wurm

’It’s a waste when you retire if you don’t use those skills’

A lifetime of skills should not go to waste in retirement, in fact, this year's Bowen Senior Citizen of the Year Chris Coventry believes that's a perfect time to use them.

Mrs Coventry has been recognised for her immense contribution to the community since she retired to Bowen in 2006.

But she's quick to say she never works alone.

"It's very special but it's really important to recognise it's never just yourself, it's always a group of people who work together," Mrs Coventry said.

"I feel like I've won it for all of us."

Mrs Coventry has been part of the Murroona Gardens board for eight years, has spent four years on the Proserpine Nursing Home board and is an active volunteer with the Zonta Club of Bowen and Bowen Community Council.

Recently, she arranged for seven vacant units in the Rotary Village to become housing for homeless seniors.

 

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One of Mrs Coventry's proudest achievements is the work she has done at Bowen Court House supporting child witnesses.

For 10 years she has helped explain the court system to young ones and is in the room when they provide statements over video.

She's helped more than 100 children in Bowen alone.

"It's giving them the reassurance and explaining the process," Mrs Coventry said.

"It's quite sensitive stuff.

"They're always very scared. Adults are scared so for children it's very overwhelming.

"You always get a hug at the end."

Zonta Club of Bowen members looked after the riders with a range of refreshments at the Bowen Rollercoaster Ride in 2016. Pictured are members Chris Coventry, Hortense Ingram, Christine Nicholls and Ruby Illmer, with Christine's granddaughter Ellie Dyne.
Zonta Club of Bowen members looked after the riders with a range of refreshments at the Bowen Rollercoaster Ride in 2016. Pictured are members Chris Coventry, Hortense Ingram, Christine Nicholls and Ruby Illmer, with Christine's granddaughter Ellie Dyne.

As part of the Murroona Gardens board, Mrs Coventry channelled her previous experience owning aged care homes and has helped with the major redevelopment of the facility that has played out over the past few years.

She was involved in helping with the furnishings and interior decorating, helping create the bright, cheerful space it is today.

"The residents say, 'I don't live in a nursing home, we live in a resort'," Mrs Coventry said.

"It's not only the residents but a huge community of staff and the families that come through.

"It has to be comfortable for all."

Bowen Neighbourhood chair Chris Coventry, Crystal Maako, Deanna Tinirau and Natasha Leaver are ready to get shovel down on the site of the new centre in 2019. Picture: Jordan Gilliland
Bowen Neighbourhood chair Chris Coventry, Crystal Maako, Deanna Tinirau and Natasha Leaver are ready to get shovel down on the site of the new centre in 2019. Picture: Jordan Gilliland

Mrs Conventry has kept busy in retirement as she believes the skills she has built up through the years should be put to good use.

"It's such a waste when you retire if you don't use those skills," she said.

"And now you've got the time to do it voluntarily, that's what I feel.

"You can decorate an aged care home. If you look for opportunities there are hundreds out there."

Mrs Conventry was recognised at an Australia Day Awards Ceremony alongside other hardworking Bowen residents.

Here's a rundown of all the Bowen award winners:

- Citizen of the Year: Gary Martin

- Young Citizen of the Year: Bowen State High School Senior Student Leadership Team

- Senior Citizen of the Year: Christine Coventry

- Junior Sportsperson Award: Shaniece Cora

- Senior Sportsperson Award: Temone Power

- Sports Administrator Award: Darren and Monika Piggott

- Senior Cultural Award: Barbara Kwaak

- Junior Cultural Award: Hayley Smith

- Community Event of the Year: 2020 Don River Dash

For a list of all the winners from around the Whitsundays, click here.