A former dairy farmer and great-grandmother whose research has named more than 100 people buried at her local cemetery after fire destroyed records is Moyne Shire's citizen of the year.
Elizabeth 'Bev' Moore has quietly worked since the mid-1990s to identify the graves of many former Garvoc, Vic, residents, most never marked and one who died as early as 1875.
The quest to name those with a final resting place in her town came while Mrs Moore was on the Panmure Primary School Council and it received a list of burials at Panmure and Garvoc.
"During Ash Wednesday in 1983, when fires went went through the Garvoc cemetery, the heat would have melted the numbers and letters on headstones; they virtually disappeared," Mrs Moore said.
"The cemetery trust member, who held the records, also lost his house, so all the records were lost."
She began to get inquiries about lost relatives and says "the interest went from there".
Her research started with deciphering headstone inscriptions and later researching unmarked graves using undertaker records and newspaper death notices.
It resulted in more than 100 names of those without headstones appearing on a memorial wall at the cemetery in 2015, with room for additions.
"Some were only infants. A lot of them were whole family groups. So therefore you got the impression they couldn't afford a headstone," Mrs Moore said.
"Some of the relatives would have had to act as gravedigger and undertaker as well. That was quite a sobering thought."
Mrs Moore said finding many likely could not afford a headstone made her more determined to acknowledge their resting places.
"It made me feel a bit sad, they were tough times, a lot couldn't afford to have a headstone, they might have wanted one, but the money wasn't there," she said.
"It's just proof that they existed, they are the people who made our country what it is. This documents the struggle they had. I feel it's important to recognise people."
The mother-of-nine, grandmother-of-23 and great-grandmother to four, said she turned to volunteering after she and late husband Ian stopped dairying on a south-west share farm and moved to Garvoc.
"You didn't have time when you are busy milking cows twice a day and seeing to your family," Mrs Moore said.
She also researched the history of the Panmure Primary School to mark its 150th year, and helped with the annual Royal Children's Hospital auction; raising more than $11,000 each year.
Mrs Moore is also a passionate musician in the Wednesday Whistlers and the Rubber Band, which raises money for South West Healthcare through busking at Port Fairy Folk Festival.
Meanwhile, Stephenee Hines took out Moyne Shire's young citizen of the year for her work driving Brauer College Kakay Group to support and inspire young Indigenous women while connecting with their culture and heritage.
Ms Hines is a member of Moyne Shire's Youth Council and reached out to the only Indigenous woman in parliament - Shadow Minister for Preventing Family Violence, Linda Burney - and engaged her in an hour-long mentoring session during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council has also awarded the Sungold Field Days Committee the shire's community event of the year.
The field days started almost 40 years ago and now hosts over 200 exhibitors, highlighting the importance of dairy locally and nationally and inspiring dairy farmers and cattle breeders.
Moyne Shire mayor Daniel Meade congratulated all recipients for their awards.
"These outstanding award recipients are a great example of what it truly means to be Australian," he said.
Cr Meade also welcomed those who would take a citizenship pledge at next week's event.
"Council is proud to be formally welcoming our new Moyne Shire residents as Australian citizens and acknowledging their commitment to our great nation," he said.
Moyne Shire's Australia Day ceremony and awards will be invite-only in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions and will take place at the Garvoc Hall.