McGarry heads 2020 Oz Day Award winners

Rotary executive member and hockey administrator Jenny McGarry has been named Armidale’s Citizen of the Year for 2020.

Her selection and the Armidale district’s other Australia Day Awards for 2020 were announced today during a ceremony at the Armidale Town Hall.

Ms McGarry has been a passionate and dedicated member of the Armidale community for more than 20 years, making her mark at a professional and voluntary level. The St George Bank Branch Manager was a key player when the bank hosted a NAIDOC Week afternoon tea at the Armidale & Region Aboriginal Culture Centre & Keeping Place.

Ms McGarry serves as Treasurer and Secretary of the Rotary Club of Armidale AM and assists in the club’s management of the monthly Markets in the Mall.

She served on the committee of Hockey New England and helped coordinate its major carnivals.

This year’s Young Citizen of the Year, Zara Blackmore, is a passionate advocate of mental health and the prominence of women in society.

The Chair of the Armidale Regional Youth Advisory Committee is a member of the Headspace Tamworth Youth Reference Group and volunteers in mental health support.

Ms Blackmore co-founded Female & Fierce, a not-for-profit group to support women locally, nationally and internationally.

Living by the motto Facta non Verba, which translates as ‘deeds not words’, she headed Youth Advisory Committee activities to engage youth, including free art workshops and art projects.

She is a youth leader with the Armidale St Vincent de Paul Homework Club for disadvantaged children and provides literacy and day-to-day support for Ezidi refugees.

Today’s ceremony included a Mayor’s Award for the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), which has been battling fires in the New England region since early 2019.

“On behalf of the entire Armidale region, we thank every member of the NSW RFS for their dedication to our community and to their country,” Councillor Murray said.

“The RFS embodies Australia’s beating heart of mateship, compassion and true grit and this award honours the dedication and selflessness of its members.”

Cr Murray said 2019 was a very tough year which could have been a lot harder without the support of the NSW RFS.

Other Armidale Australia Day Award winners:

Senior Citizen of the Year – John Harvey

Mr Harvey has served in many community organisations, including the Armidale Show Society since 1950s and as regional branch Secretary of the Superfine Woolgrowers Association. He established the Country Party Younger Set in the 1950s and is a founding member and past President of Probus Club. The former President of Dumaresq Shire Council is also Patron of the Armidale City Band.

Community Service Award – Robin Cameron

Service to equestrian activities, including support for pony club and as head coach for Riding for the Disabled Armidale.

Contribution to Sport and Recreation – Paul Billings

President of Armidale Triathlon Club, member of Armidale Athletics Club, New England Mountain Bikers and race director of Duval Dam Buster runs and weekly Armidale Park Run.

Community Event of the Year – Regional Australia Bank: Suicide Prevention Charity Golf Day and Gala Dinner

The February 2019 event attracted 136 golfers and raised over $35,000 for suicide prevention research, while raising awareness about mental health issues. Guests for the day included rugby league great Laurie Daley, sports commentator Terry Kennedy and and a Director of Suicide Prevention Australia, Julie Heraghty.

Environmental Citizen of the Year – Armidale Urban Rivercare Group

Led by Bruce Whan, the Armidale Urban Rivercare Group has facilitated hydrology and regeneration works on Dumaresq Creek for about 40 years.

Other nominees:

Dr Robin Jones – retired educator passionate about human rights and social justice. Co-founded Armidale Sanctuary Humanitarian Settlement Group, organises Armidale annual Human Rights Lecture and since retiring has volunteered in Thai and African refugee camps to improve their schools and teachers.

Peter Clark – Dedicated and long-standing businessman who has committed half a century to assisting the elderly and people with disability.

Armidale Archers – hosted the 2019 Youth National Championships (attracted 130 competitors and boosted local interest in archery)

Graham Parsons – Armidale Soccer Association volunteer for more than 20 years (President for about 10 years) and President of Armidale Little Athletics for three years.

Narwan Eels Football Club – developed greater participation of junior teams, including first Under 16 girls team since 2001. Led to greater connectivity for local families.

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