Darryl Betzein is Mitchell's citizen of the year, awarded at the local Australia Day celebration on Sunday.
Darryl Betzein is Mitchell's citizen of the year, awarded at the local Australia Day celebration on Sunday.

Love for helping community inspires citizen of the year

EVERY tourist season without fail, visitors will find Darryl Betzein behind the wheel of the town’s courtesy bus.

Mitchell residents, on the other hand, see him everywhere from the RSL, to St Patrick’s school, the local container refund point, at meetings of the Booringa Action Group, and again in the courtesy bus, making sure everyone gets home safely from town events.

Mr Betzein’s years of service to the community earned him the prestigious title of Citizen of the Year, at Mitchell’s Australia Day awards.

“To say I feel humble is probably the easiest way to put it, because there is no other word,” Mr Betzein said.

“You do what you’re doing for the community because you enjoy it, and that is why I get involved.”

Over his 14 years living in Mitchell, Mr Betzein has used his formidable camp oven cooking skills for countless fundraisers, kept the grounds looking immaculate at St Patrick’s school, been a driving force on their P & C, and run ANZAC Day services in Mitchell, Mungallala, and Amby through the RSL, of which he is currently president.

But he is by far most famous for being Mitchell’s friendly bus driver.

“I’m known all over Australia by the people I’ve driven,” Mr Betzein said.

“The relationship you form with these people keeps them coming back through this way every year; when I pick them up or drop them off, often they ask me for a cup of tea and a chat, and we all really enjoy it.”

In between his part time work at St Patrick’s school, where the kids know him as Mr Darryl, Mr Betzein plays a key role on the school board and the P & C, but has expanded his volunteer role to do something very special for the kids.

“Last year I started the recycling – the containers for chance – and we have put over $4000 in cans through that,” he said.

“That money will be going back through the school, to help build a playground which they would like.

“So far the recycling scheme has been a great financial boost to the school, but at the end of the day, I do it for the kids.”


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