It is that time of year again where we celebrate those individuals who, through their actions, have made Centurion a better place over the last year. The hardest part of selecting recipients for the Centurion of the Year is knowing that there are more worthy nominees than awards.

Let’s face it, Centurion is full of amazing people doing amazing things and just because their names won’t be called tonight does not make them any less amazing. Can I ask for a round of applause for those whose names will still be called?

It is my extreme pleasure to call up this year’s first Centurion of the Year recipient.

Jane Bennett James

Jane spends her days, and most of her husband’s money, feeding the dogs in Thaba Tshwane. Through her project, Thaba Tshwane Dogs, Jane not only feeds and sterilises these dogs, but she also educates their owners to get them off the chain and fitted with adequate shelter. The aim of her project is to improve the living conditions of these dogs. Through her dedication and selflessness, she has not only bettered the lives of 100s of dogs over the past 2 years but has shown us what the true meaning of compassion is.

Cristo Kuypers

Moeggesukkel is a rehabilitation program for men with substances abuse in Centurion but unlike other rehabs it is also a place where men find HOPE and the skills to successfully reintegrate back into society as productive members. Over the years we have also gotten to know Moeggesukkel as a place the community can count on to step up when there is a need, be it restocking a burnt down home or fixing the unfixable.

Although Moeggesukkel has many hands, for us, one set of hands stands out above the rest. Cristo, the man with the infectious smile, has shown us what hard work and a caring heart can do to better our community. Congratulations Christo!

Ruan Heyns

Ruan, the brain-child behind CERT-SA, was born to be a paramedic and when he grew up that is exactly what he became. During his working hours Ruan is a paramedic for ER24 and in his off-time he is a paramedic for CERT-SA, which is a non-profit emergency response service that assists residents for free during life threatening situations, regardless of their financial standing or medical aid states.

Being a paramedic is a calling and no one is more dedicated to saving lives than Ruan, it is for this reason that we have chosen him as one of our Centurion of the Year recipients.

Jane, Cristo, Ruan, congratulations and thank you for your part in making Centurion a better place. You set an example that each and every one of us should strive towards.

Before I conclude the awards ceremony, I would like to call up a 4th person.

When we were going over the list of nominees one name stood out. This person did not fall within our normal criteria for Centurion of the Year, but his actions were so touching that we felt it was only right that he be called up and honoured with the Centurion People’s Choice Award…

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you…

Paul Marx, the man that gave a stranger in distress his TIME and helped bring a new life into this world!

As anyone who has ever been present at childbirth will tell you, this is not a walk in the park in the sanitised and pristine confines of a top hospital, and paraphrasing Rudyard Kipling seems apt when applied to this very personal drama – “If you can keep your head when all around are losing theirs… You will be a Man”.

Paul, we are honoured to present you with this time piece created by Shawn Dos Santos. A symbol of the time you gave when you could have just driven past. Thank you for inspiring our town to be that little bit more Centurion.

Centurion is definitely not without its shortcomings. We have our problems like crime, and stray Yorkies, however once we make our way around the big holes, Centurion would not be the place we call home without the people that make it what it is. And we can all take a little away from Jane’s, Cristo’s, Ruan’s, Paul’s stories and strive to be that little bit more Centurion.