COMMUNITY involvement was a core part of Ingrid Kennerley’s upbringing and is something she still lives by.
That willingness to step up has led to the Cummins district resident being announced the SA Citizen of the Year at a ceremony at Government House last week.
Ingrid said she was left “speechless” by the news.
“Once I got it processed, I was very honoured and proud to be named citizen of the year,” she said.
“The ceremony was in the garden and there were other recipients in other areas who had their inspiring stories, so it was a really nice night.”
Ingrid’s involvement in the community includes being involved in committees for the Cummins swimming pool, netball club and football league, with sport a passion of hers.
“I was brought up with community involvement – my parents were on a lot of committees so it was embedded in me to be involved and something I have a passion for,” she said.
Ingrid said her community work also helped her to meet people in her community when she moved to Cummins with husband Brock 19 years ago.
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“It’s a good way to get out and meet people to put yourself out there on committees and groups,” she said.
“I’ve met some of my best friends through that.”
She said having children – Jacob, 19, and Nikita, 16 – also cemented her volunteering spirit.
“Another reason to get involved is to keep things going for your kids,” she said.
Seeking a new challenge, she also recently stepped in as company secretary for the Cummins District Financial Services – helping keep the community bank going.
“It was a bit of a different direction for me,” she said.
Ingrid has also been active in putting her personal experience with tragedy towards helping others in the same boat.
She lost her husband Brock to suicide nine years ago, “with no reason in our eyes”.
“Since then, to help me process and understand and move on, I’ve gotten very open about our journey,” she said.
This includes posts on Facebook, writing articles for blogs and local newspapers and giving talks at health nights. She is also a mentor with the Empower Lower Eyre Peninsula Suicide Prevention Network.
Ingrid says it is not always easy speaking out on this topic.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me and I back off and need time to regather,” she said.
But she believes it is something that needs to be discussed.
“I had no experience with it before, so to be put in that experience, it really needed to be talked about,” she said.
Two years ago, during her own “little bit of a fitness campaign” she began looking for something to work towards.
She decided to run the Bay to City fun run and fundraise for Suicide Prevention Australia. She raised nearly $6000 – far more than she expected.
Ingrid said one benefit of her SA Citizen of the Year win might be more opportunities to share her message with more people.
“There is life and hope after a tragedy,” she said.
For others who are experiencing mental health strain, Ingrid urges them to speak up, even if just to a neighbour.
“Seek help, it’s out there,” she said.
The Roseworthy Agricultural College graduate and former SARDI researcher also works four days a week at the Cummins Mill.
Ingrid has no plans to take up any more roles, instead hoping for some free time to watch son and Geelong Football Club recruit Jacob play footy and for her own patchwork quilting.
“I’m learning to say no,” she said. “Although maybe if something really interesting came up.”