2024 Australia Day Awards

Gunnedah Shire Council

The Gunnedah Shire Council recognised the invaluable contributions made by members of the local community at the annual Australia Day Awards ceremony held at the Gunnedah Town Hall on Friday night.

Chair of the Australia Day Working Group, Councillor Juliana McArthur congratulated the 13 category winners:

“Well done to all recipients who have been recognised this year. Whether they are part of a sports team, individual, an environmentalist or even a good neighbour, each and every person has made a huge contribution to the Gunnedah community and should be very proud,” she said.

Ossie and Beryl Campbell Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award – Coralie Howe

To a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the community in a voluntary capacity.

Coralie Howe is a Life Member of Gunnedah CWA and is being recognised for her generosity and willingness to be involved in many aspects of our Gunnedah community. Coralie’s efforts to ensure members can attend meetings and functions are always appreciated. Coralie is always willing to offer assistance to those in need.

Community Achievement Award – CWA Gunnedah -Leonie Harley Hon. Sec.

To a person or group who have made a significant contribution to the community through their dedication and efforts in a specific organisation, community initiative or civic duty.

As leaders and advocates, members of Gunnedah CWA have been involved in our community since 1922. In recent years, coordinating practical support for drought, flood and education have been major projects, along with fundraising and lobbying government on important issues. CWA members have a ‘can do’ attitude and strive to bring women and families together to form a network of friendship and support. Congratulations Gunnedah CWA!

Cultural Achievement Award – Agnes Kin Thurston

To a person or group who have made a significant contribution to the community through any means of cultural diversity.

Agnes Kin Thurston is passionate about being involved in the community, showcasing not only her own Polynesian and Melanesian cultural descendency, but all the multicultural opportunities presented in the Shire today. Agnes has been involved in the Multicultural Women’s Association, Multicultural Playgroup, Gunnedah Pre School, supporting Harmony Day, welcoming the Princess of Tonga, supporting Gunnedah Shire Library with language and cultural weeks and working for Gunnedah Family Support.

Eve Turner Perpetual Trophy – Edmund Heap (note spelling of Edd is correct)

To a retired person who has continued to dedicate their time and efforts to impart their knowledge and skills to others in the community, and to assist people to attain higher goals in life.

Edd Heap has been integral in Gunnedah’s community chess club for over 36 years – at teaching level, competition level and social level. Edd has long been involved in teaching primary and high school students to play chess, encouraging them to play and compete in tournaments. The annual Australia Day chess competition (happening this Saturday) and the ‘Speed Chess’ competition during the Weeks of Speed are examples of his commitment and achievements. Edd has played a vital role in nurturing a sense of community amongst our Shire’s chess players.

Max and Mikie Maas Good Neighbour Award – Ian Franke

To a person who is a quiet achiever, lives quietly out of the public eye but is well known to family, friends and neighbours as someone who gives freely of their time to lend a neighbourly hand, without looking for anything in return.

Ian Franke has a happy, caring nature that stands out to his neighbours and he is always reliable. He demonstrates his pride in the community of Gunnedah through his assistance to neighbours. Ian was nominated as he takes the stress and worry about how things will be done from his neighbours’ lives. From mowing lawns, fixing leaky taps, small odd jobs, to looking after houses and gardens when people are away, Ian is generous with his time and is highly esteemed. Congratulations Ian on your contribution to a stress fee neighbourhood!

Junior Sports Person of the Year – Hugo Holmes

For a member of a sporting association within Gunnedah Shire for the last 12 months who has made a significant contribution to their sporting club

Hugo Holmes is 11 years old and attends St. Xavier’s primary school and is a proud member of Gunnedah Motorcycle Club. His 2023 achievements include traveling to Illinois in America to win their Flat Track Grand National Championship in the 65cc production class and being named the Motorcycling NSW Junior Dirt Track Rider of the year (17 years and under). Hugo has also competed successfully regionally, interstate and nationally over the last year, as well as being recognised as a valued member of his local club.

Sports Person of the Year – Ms Khobi Devine

For a member of a sporting association within Gunnedah Shire for the last 12 months who has made a significant contribution to their sporting club or chosen sporting field.

Khobi Devine is an advocate for the growth of women’s, girls and junior football in Gunnedah. She captained the Poochettes senior women’s AFL team to an exciting premiership win in a home grand final last year. Khobi was also named in the north-west team of the year and was recognised as one of the top 10 best and fairest players in the zone. Khobi is the first female to achieve the milestone of playing 50 games for the Gunnedah Bulldogs. Khobi is heavily involved in both touch football and AFL in Gunnedah and is recognised as a reliable team member who goes above and beyond both on and off the field.

Senior Sports Team of the Year – Gunnedah Bulldogs Women’s AFL Team – Poochettes

– (Captain Ms Khobi Devine)

Have been members of a sporting association within Gunnedah Shire for the last 12 months and made a significant contribution to their sporting club.

The Gunnedah Poochettes Senior Women’s AFL Team represent Gunnedah in the North-West Australian Football League, and proudly achieved the 2023 North-West Women’s Premiership. With a playing squad of about 30, the Poochettes provide a safe and inclusive place for women to come together and play AFL. Winning the premiership with a home grand final is a wonderful achievement and congratulations go to all involved!

Ivan Towns Memorial Award Coach of the Year – Andrew Frend

This award is in recognition of the work that is done by a coach. It recognises commitment to training and passing on knowledge.

Andrew Frend has a broad range of coaching accreditation and over 20 years experience coaching athletes at international, national, state, regional and local levels. Andrew is a successful professional coach and also contributes by volunteering his time to local schools and Little Athletics. He is being recognised tonight for his outstanding knowledge of athletics – specialising in sprints, hurdles and relays – and his ongoing efforts to share this knowledge with younger coaches and athletes.

Environmental Citizen of the Year – Sandy Thomson

This award supports efforts to preserve the environment, including demonstrating the ability to foster partnerships that achieve litter reduction and recycling outcomes.

Sandy Thomson has been an active member of Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group for nearly 20 years and Treasurer for nearly 10 years. As a resident of Gunnedah and neighbour of Porcupine Reserve, Sandy has a passion for the management of this reserve and personally makes a considerable effort with weed control and rubbish removal. Sandy is always keen to lend a hand, planting trees, helping out at the plant stand at the markets and fully supporting the work of Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group. In her role as Treasurer she has had to manage significant funding applications which will have long term benefits for our environment.

Young Citizen of the Year – Lewis Donaldson

This award goes to someone 20 years of age and under who has demonstrated commitment to the community, shown a high level of achievement and is involved in extra-curricular activities

Community focused, Lewis Donaldson exhibited a high level of dedication to the role of Captain at St. Marys College in 2023. Lewis initiated change regarding the school’s waste management program, was involved in the organisation of numerous school fundraisers and inspires his peers and younger students. Lewis advanced in both the Lions and Rotary public speaking competitions and, outside of school, coached tennis. Lewis’ leadership and mentoring qualities are recognised in his achievement of this award.

Citizen of the Year Award – Marie Hobson

This award goes to a Gunnedah local over 21 years of age who has made an outstanding contribution to the residents or community. It recognises significant contribution in a voluntary capacity along with the values of citizenship and ethical leadership.

Marie Hobson is passionate about the Gunnedah community and has made an outstanding contribution as both a highly respected professional journalist as well as a valued volunteer. Marie helped to launch the Gunnedah Times, is a member of the View Club, a swimming coach and has strongly supported the Historical Society. Marie has also served on St Josephs Parish Council and St Marys Board of Management.

Marie believes in making everyone welcome to our Shire – she says this is a great community and she cannot think of a reason to live anywhere else! Congratulations Marie!

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