John Bentley knows that good things take time, dedication and a lot of care.

The Friends of Melton Botanic Gardens president was named the municipality’s Citizen of the Year on Australia Day in recognition of his service to the community.

The council’s community achievement awards recognised the contributions by individuals, groups and projects in Melton over the past year.

Mr Bentley said that the award came as a surprise.

“I’m humbled and privileged to receive the award,” he said.

Mr Bentley has led the group from the day the botanical garden’s initiative began in 2005.

“I saw an ad in the community notices section of the local paper in February 2004 saying there was a meeting of the Friends of the Melton Botanic that night,” he said.

“I thought that sounds like a really great idea to have a botanic garden in Melton so went along to the meeting and I have been involved ever since.

“There is wonderful team of people with a diverse range of skills and experience to volunteer and work with in the Friends of the Melton Botanic Garden.”

He encouraged the people of Melton to join the project which he said has “put Melton on the gardening map” by its success.

“I have spent most of my life working in the education sector in secondary education including Melton Technical School, now Staughton College, RMIT, TAFE and at Victoria University.

“Education creates opportunity and this is why I encourage people to take part in the work to be done at the gardens.”

Other awards recipients included Linking Melton South (Community Project of the Year), Sharie May Castillo (Young Citizen of the Year) Jane Sultana (Woman of the Year) and Lesley Jenner (Access and Inclusion Leader of the Year).