REGION - Can you imagine a community without volunteers? It's a stark image. No parents and friends associations raising funds for play equipment at kindergartens and schools, no coaches and trainers at sporting clubs and no auxiliaries raising money to boost hospital budgets to cover items so often overlooked. Volunteering has been the backbone of the Wimmera for decades. It is the vital link within our communities, the fabric and the essence of what makes our towns the great supportive and inclusive places that they are. It's about time we made a song and dance about it. Together, with local associations, community groups and businesses, Volunteering Western Victoria (VWV) will celebrate the remarkable efforts made by volunteers across our various communities. The Bendigo Bank Volunteering Recognition Awards will acknowledge on a biennial basis the outstanding service and achievements of volunteers. The awards night on May 17 will be the biggest volunteering recognition event ever held in this region, covering volunteers across the municipalities of Northern Grampians, Horsham Rural City Council, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh, West Wimmera and Buloke. VWV needs your help to recognise those who deserve acclaim. "Generally speaking, volunteers are a very humble group of people who wish to assist, promote and add quality to the lives of others in a low key, no fuss manner," VWV's chairperson, Kylie Zanker said. "We all know some wonderful individuals and organisations that give so freely of their time and resources. I urge you to make your nomination count." Who are the young volunteers who have made a difference in your community? Who has provided a significant volunteering presence over many years? Which group has stood out time and time again in the sporting, creative, health or emergency services sector? And which business has been particularly active with corporate volunteering? "Volunteers are the lifeblood of all we expect a community to have," Bendigo Bank's Horsham branch manager, Darren Chesterfield said. "Find a strong community and behind the scenes you will find a band of dedicated volunteers. "We commend the inaugural Volunteering Recognition Awards as a magnificent initiative that will put the spotlight on those dedicated volunteers whose countless hours normally go unheralded." Such recognition will be rewarded. Leading Teams Australia is offering all category winners the opportunity to send two people to attend a full, one-day workshop based on skills development, tailored to the needs of the participants. Nominations for the various categories close on Tuesday, April 30. Our judges, Ange Newton, Bill Lovell, Mandy Stewart and Helen Hobbs, will then get to work!