In his 40 years in Rockingham, Laurie Smith has seen the area grow from a small town into a vibrant city, but one thing has remained the same — a sense of community.
A former mayor, councillor and shire president, Mr Smith was announced as a Freeman of the City at a special luncheon last week, becoming just the sixth person to receive the honour.
When he and wife Nola first moved to Rockingham in 1968, the area was home to just 6000 people and was governed by a shire council.
Today, more than 110,000 live in Rockingham and its surrounding suburbs, but according to Mr Smith, that has not diminished the region’s sense of community spirit.
‘‘The amazing thing about Rockingham is that even though the population has grown, it still has this incredible seaside amenity which a lot of places tend to lose,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve seen Rockingham go from a village, to a town, to a city.
‘‘In the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s Rockingham was much smaller, so if something was needed, you just did it—you didn’t wait around for the government or anyone else to do it.
‘‘So it was a real get-up-and-go attitude back then because it was like a country town and in terms of its soul, I think it still is.’’
Mr Smith was chosen as an honorary freeman at a council meeting last week for his service to the community, which has included work with the Rotary Club, Rockingham Royal Historical Society and Kolbe College.
Mr Smith said he was humbled by the honour.‘‘Rockingham has been very good to us and from a very early stage I took the view that if you’re going to live in a place, then you have to give something back.’’