There’s a long list of volunteer work to Jan Lewis’s name. It includes contributions to the Dinosaur Coast Management Group, Broome Bird Observatory, Environs Kimberley, Society for Kimberley Indigenous Plants and Animals, Feed the Little Children and St John of God Relationship Centre.
Jan’s recent recognition as Broome’s Senior Citizen of the Year 2021 is well deserved. Jan’s neighbours and friends of Solway Loop nominated her because of her passion and tireless efforts in restoring the Solway Loop Drain. Over the past five years, Jan has lovingly raised local seedlings and planted them along the banks of the Solway Drain. She waters the plants twice a week by bucket (from a 1000L tank on the back of her ute) and continues this regime for two or three dry seasons, until the plants are established.
It’s heartening to see the change not only in the drain, but also in the number of neighbours and support organisations that have come on board: a true ripple effect. When Jan first started, she was doing it on her own, having to negotiate with neighbours and the Shire Council to get them to avoid driving and mowing over newly planted seedlings. These days, it’s all on board, with the Council donating plants, mulch and water, neighbours banding together to form the group ‘Friends of Solway Loop Drain’, collectively caring for the plants and expanding the work into nature strips and further along the drain and water catchment zone. They are even applying for a Shire Community Grant to buy a mower to undertake their own slashing.
The drains in this area are becoming more attractive and less weedy as a result of Jan’s drive and commitment, with many trees planted and fifty self-sown plants nurtured and saved from mowing. People are now using and enjoying these public spaces more often, both recreationally and as walkways.
Congratulations on your award Jan, and thank you for inspiring others by beautifying our neighbourhood and increasing its diversity of plants and animals.