Judy and Ray Matthews with their Gympie Lion's Club 2019 Citizens of the Year Award.
Judy and Ray Matthews with their Gympie Lion's Club 2019 Citizens of the Year Award. Contributed

Lions names outstanding couple Gympie Citizens of the Year

RECENTLY crowned Gympie Lions Club's Citizens of the Year for 2019, Ray and Judy Matthews are an unassuming and modest couple.

They have worked diligently over many decades, not only running a livestock transport business but also their large cattle property at Woolooga.

The couple have also had a lifetime of involvement with the Woolooga, Widgee and Kilkivan communities through horse sports and other social activities.

Ray and Judy always have time to help out despite their busy schedule of running a business and raising a family.

Throughout their community they are held in high esteem - not only for their reliability and dependability but also their friendliness and good- hearted nature.

Whenever a helping hand is needed, they are there reaching out to assist.

When the Kilkivan Great Horse Ride was established in 1986, Ray and Judy opened the "Old Coach Trail" from their Woolooga property to the Kilkivan Showgrounds.

That association lasted for more than 30 years.

As well as hosting the starting point for that portion of the ride, Ray took on the role of trail boss and Judy was the treasurer for the event.

There were years where 300 to 400 riders participated from Turavale (the name of their Woolooga property) and many close friendships were formed during this time - friendships that have stood the test of time and continue today.

In 2007, Ray and Judy began their love affair with Angel Flight Australia - an organisation that transports rural patients and their families by air to major centres for medical treatment) - opening their Woolooga property once again to an annual event. It too has stood the test of time.

Each September the Angel Flight Charity Horse ride sets off from Turavale to the Widgee Sport and Recreation Grounds - a distance of about 30km.

The event usually attracts about 150 to 180 trail riders and is one of the highlights of year for the local and wider community.

As of last year, the ride had raised and donated a total of $116,000 to Angel Flight Australia.

It is through the Matthews' foresight, hard work and popularity that the event is so successful.

To honour their dedication, the Gympie Lions Club presented Ray and Judy with their 2019 Citizens of the Year Award at the club's change-over dinner on June 29.

The couple, taken completely by surprise, were presented with an engraved clock to mark the occasion.

The Gympie Lions Clubs also presented them with a substantial donation for this year's Angel Flight Australia ride.

Congratulations were extended to both Ray and Judy from their family, friends and the wider community in recognition of their continued efforts to keep those angels in the air.