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Thursday, April 15, 2021

The ‘Mayor of Leane Street’ voted Canberra’s best neighbour

Celebrating community and encouraging connection, the ACT finalist has been named for the third annual ‘Celebrate Your Neighbour’ competition.

Run by Nextdoor, an online platform that helps to connects neighbours to each other, the competition celebrates Neighbour Day, Australia’s annual celebration of community.

This year, Neighbour Day will be held on Sunday March 28, providing all Australians with an opportunity to recognise the strength that can be drawn through community.

The competition asked Nextdoor members across Australia to vote for a person in their neighbourhood who has gone above and beyond to make the community a better place.

The ACT finalist, David Boughton, was nominated by his neighbour Carmel McGregor for his role as the ‘Mayor of Leane Street’ in Hughes.

According to Ms McGregor, Mr Boughton and his wife Sue have acted as longstanding important contributors and leaders of their local community.

“He alerts people to developments and issues of concern and danger,” she said.

“He really brings people together, reaches out to those in need and builds social cohesion.

“It is so wonderful to have someone like David… who can build a sense of camaraderie, care and concern, and add a bit of fun to our times together. “

The annual street party is among Mr Boughton’s list of achievements as Mayor of Leane Street.

While the party was postponed during COVID-19, Mr Boughton said he hopes they will be able to hold one later this year once everyone is vaccinated.

His home is also the street’s safe house, where anyone can go if they need help.

Mr Boughton said his favourite memory from his years of community service was helping a lost woman who had fallen over near his house. 

“We took care of her for a few hours before we found where her home was, I think she had dementia,” he said.

Mr Boughton and his wife moved to Hughes in 1984 when he gained employment as an architect working on new Parliament House.  

While they originally planned to go back to Perth when the job finished, Mr Boughton said he “wouldn’t dream of leaving now”.

Mr Boughton said he felt shocked when he was voted the ACT finalist because he doesn’t see his contributions to the neighbourhood as special but something that should be done every day.

“I’m just a quiet person, I don’t go publicising; I just see an issue and I address it, it’s what I’ve always done.”

Head of Nextdoor Australia, Jennie Sager said it was small acts of kindness that caught her attention when looking through the entries.

“I think the connection was so obvious when Carmel nominated David, just around what he’s doing for the community,” she said.

“I think it wasn’t one big action, it’s a series of everyday actions.

“You can feel the vibe of positivity and kindness coming through from the entry and those two things really stood out to us.”

Ms Sager said these small acts of kindness were especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knowing just six neighbours reduces feelings of loneliness and small acts of kindness truly have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, according to research from Nextdoor.

“Neighbour Day reminds us of the importance of social connection and neighbourly actions,” Ms Sager said. 

 “Every single nominee is doing something that improves the lives of others and it was near impossible for us to choose just a few winners from the entries we received.”

Mr Boughton’s advice for those who are nervous to connect is to “be neighbourly”.  

“With computers and the way life is going, people don’t interact as well; make the first connections, invite people in.

“Start the link and the chain gets bigger.”

Visit the Nextdoor website for more information.  

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