Inaugural Le Tour de Merriwa organiser Robert Smith nominated for prestigious NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards

THE "pedalling" force behind the inaugural Le Tour de Merriwa bike ride has been nominated for the prestigious NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards.

Local pharmacist, and avid cyclist, Robert Smith will vie for the Awards Australia Connecting Communities category at the annual event.

The competition's state-wide search recently began to locate that inspiring individual, who we all wonder where they always find the time.

And, it's certainly the case for Mr Smith, according to his nominator Nicky Western.

"There are many great cycling routes around the Upper Hunter - and a group of keen riders live in Merriwa," she said.

"When Upper Hunter Shire Council completed the transformation of the Merriwa-Willow Tree road from gravel to bitumen, the idea was floated that an organised ride could make use of the new section.

"It was hoped the event would bring people to visit Merriwa, a town that had suffered a severe drought and then a bushfire.

"It was also a project that Robert believed could excite the town, give local cyclists a goal to work towards, provide some economic benefit as well as a project to take their minds off the current situation.

"He jumped on the concept and Le Tour de Merriwa was the result.

"Robert worked closely with council to ensure all safety and insurance requirements were met but his biggest achievement was the buy-in from the Merriwa community."

Ms Western said everyone rated Le Tour de Merriwa "an outstanding success" in its maiden year.

"It brought many visitors to the area and gave the community a chance to showcase their beautiful town," she explained.

"Robert Smith's passion for Merriwa is infectious.

"And, this was evident in the support he received from the local residents and the widespread support he received from the cycling community."

The NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards offer terrific prizes to the winners of the following classifications: Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award; Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award; Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award; Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Crown Land Manager Excellence Award; Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award; TransGrid Leadership Award and Awards Australia Connecting Communities Award.

To submit a nomination, simply go online to www.awardsaustralia.com/nswactraca and select 'Nominate Now'.

Alternatively, make the process much easier by phoning 1300 735 445 and passing on their details.

Nominations close on Tuesday, July 28.