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'I'm Humbled': Young Darcy's Honour After Haunting Drought Poem

The morning after Darcy Howard was named Young Citizen of the Year by his local council, he was busy picking up hay. 

The 16 year old from the Southern Highlands in NSW was recognised for writing a poem highlighting the mental plight faced by drought-stricken farmers, and wants to remind others of the ongoing struggle.

"I'm humbled and very proud of myself," he told 10 daily.

"I think it's a good opportunity to make everyone realise that this drought is not over."

Darcy's school, Chevalier College in Burradoo, nominated him for the award after he wrote 'Little Buster' for an English assignment.

The moving poem, that sheds light on a rising number of farmers gripped by anxiety and depression, received national attention after it was shared by 10 daily six months ago. 

At the time, Darcy said it felt natural to write, after hearing "lots of stories" from his community. But he never expected it to reach so many.

Darcy Howard, 16, wrote 'Little Buster' to highlight the mental plight of drought-affected farmers. Image: Emma Brancatisano

The poem has been shared widely on social media and used by several schools to promote R U OK Day, a national awareness day that aims to inspire meaningful conversations around mental health.

"I'm very proud that I've been able to help at least a few people," he said, after receiving the local council award on Australia Day.

Volunteer and bicycle repairman Hans Radowitz was named Wingecarribee Shire's 2019 Citizen of the Year.

Radowitz has been collecting and repairing more than 2,700 bicycles for disadvantaged communities in developing countries since 2010.

READ MORE: The Haunting Poem That Is The Silent Face Of Drought 

READ MORE: Culture Of Resilience Sees Farmers Suffering In Silence

Wingecarribee Shire Mayor Councillor Duncan Gair said both recipients were examples of the Highlands community spirit.

"We're very fortunate to have such dedicated, hardworking and compassionate people in our Shire and the Highlands is without doubt a better place as a result of their selfless contributions," Gair said.

Meanwhile, life for Darcy moves on as usual. While his family property has received "a bit of rain", he said it was far from drought-breaking.

"Like everyone else, it will take a few months of continual rain to get it back," he said.

Contact the author ebrancatisano@networkten.com.au

Featured image: Emma Brancatisano