Lawrence agricultural contractor Eddie Fitzgerald was among those ‘‘outstanding individuals who have made a significant impact in their community’’ honoured at the 2023 Clutha District Community Awards.

‘‘Council is proud to honour Edward Fitzgerald for his dedication and contributions to the community,’’ a council spokesman said.

‘‘Eddie has demonstrated exceptional commitment to community groups and has consistently gone above and beyond to support their initiatives.’’

Besides a long history with local council, rodeo, rugby and New Zealand Century Farms, Mr Fitzgerald has been highly active with the Community Organisation Grants Scheme, Tuapeka-Lawrence Community Company and Heritage Trust to preserve and promote the historical significance of the gold-rush town and foster growth and development.

‘‘The Gabriel’s Gully 150th celebrations in 2011 were especially good for the town,’’ Mr Fitzgerald said.

‘‘With Clutha District Council, the Trust and Community board, Department of Conservation, Lions Club and so many volunteers . . . That project’s networks and cooperation made in my opinion the greatest contribution to the district in recent times.

‘‘For me it really was the bringing together of the community, four year’s planning for a three-day event — it was huge. The Community Company started up to enhance Lawrence as a destination to explore not just pass through. I’m just one of many in total agreement with that and it’s definitely coming together.

‘‘The town is under continual beautification, the free, fast internet is helping people work from home or run businesses remotely . . . I think we could use more visitor accommodation and rental properties, but drive around Lawrence and see how many new builds are going on.’’

In the early 2000s, he also pitched in with his machinery at the Chinese Camp development, helping with archaeological digs and building the Chinese oven.

‘‘I’m afraid I did let it get a bit hot one day, cooking a pig. In fact I’ve never seen so much black smoke and I was pretty much sacked on the spot from being the chef.’’

Mr Fitzgerald was grateful for the recognition and looked forward to ‘‘keep doing what we’re doing’’.