HELPING HAND: Franky Horton was awarded 2021 Citizen of the Year (northern region) for her massive fundraising efforts in the Leyburn community. Picture: Jessica Paul
HELPING HAND: Franky Horton was awarded 2021 Citizen of the Year (northern region) for her massive fundraising efforts in the Leyburn community. Picture: Jessica Paul

Small-town hero’s kindness shines on regional stage

After years of dedicated community service in her small Southern Downs town, a Leyburn woman has been named the Northern Region’s 2021 Citizen of the Year.

Franky Horton was recognised for founding the Leyburn Community Fund, which raised huge amounts of money for drought-affected residents through recycling and community events.

Alongside owning and running the Leyburn post office, the humble hero also spread her time between the town’s community noticeboard and organised its R U OK Day event.

Mrs Horton was moved to tears by the touching community sentiment and recognition, but said she never could have made such an achievement on her own.

“I think owning the post office has put me in a position where I can recognise where there’s a massive gap in our demographic of people who live in the Leyburn region,” she said.

“We just got in and got some money raised, because we need it. Everyone’s suffered during the last year, but having five years back-to-back of drought has been pretty hard.

“There’s a lot of people behind me. I’ve done a huge amount of work, but you don’t do it on your own – you need that community support.”

Mrs Horton was officially recognised at the Southern Downs Regional Council’s Australia Day ceremony in Warwick Town Hall.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi credited the Leyburn woman’s “tireless pursuit of community service”.

Not one to idle in her success, Mrs Horton is already getting her next community aid initiative under way.

“My next thing to work on is getting the pipeline next to the fire ground reinstated in Leyburn, so we can sell water from the town to our local residents,” she said.

“Some people are travelling from the outskirts of Leyburn right out to Pittsworth or Millmerran to buy water when we need to have it in town, then we’re stopping money going out of the Southern Downs.

“I don’t think I’ll ever stop, because there’s just going to be a need for it forever.”

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