REVEALED: Who’s in line for Clarence Australia Day Awards?
WHILE many people have stepped up for their community over what has been a tumultuous twelve months, our community has paid tribute to those who have made the Clarence Valley a better place.
The nominations for the Clarence Valley Council Australia Day Awards have been released across four categories, and will be awarded at a ceremony on January 26.
There are a total of 17 nominations across the categories which are Young Citizen, Local Hero, Community Organisation and Citizen of the Year.
Take a look at the some of the achievements of each of this year's nominees:
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Rex has been a Director of the Clarence Pastoral & Agricultural Society Ltd (Grafton Showground & Recreation Reserve Trust and Grafton Show) since 1985 and President since 2015. As an electrician, he gives freely of his time to maintain the electrical system of the showground all year round. He oversees the running and maintenance to ensure smooth operation of the showground and facilities within the ground. He donates his time and services for the benefit of the Lawrence community and is involved in many other community groups.
Melanie moved to Grafton from Queensland and manages the Country University Centre in Pound Street, Grafton. She is inspirational and supportive to all the students who attend the Centre to study. Throughout the fires, flooding and then COVID-19, Melanie has not faltered in her devotion to her job and the students. Melanie has been featured in the Daily Examiner many times highlighting her achievements.
Sally is the founder of the Clarence Valley Directory. She has created a platform to spotlight the region's small business owners. As a long-term local resident and a former TV commercial producer, she implements her skills to help local small businesses have their own pages in the directory. In addition, Sally has been selected to be an official campaign partner for Go Local First which will showcase some of the Clarence Valley's local businesses to a national audience. This will involve nationwide broadcast and digital advertising about the importance of supporting local small and family businesses and encouraging consumer spending locally.
HAYLEY TALBOT (nominated twice)
Hayley is a passionate advocate for all things good in the Clarence Valley, its people and environment, and future generations. She applied for a grant to plant 5,000 native and nectar feeding trees for the fire ravaged areas of Ashby, Mororo, Iluka and surrounds to help the local koala population. After securing this grant, the trees were planted by the community post-bushfires to help regenerate koala habitat and bring people together who had lost their jobs through COVID-19. Hayley runs a free volunteer safe space in Yamba where young women are encouraged to call in and enjoy a safe and relaxed atmosphere to create, learn and converse openly with each other.
Jenny works with her crew 24/7 for anyone in need. She has many helpers, people doing knitted knockers, making cushions for breast cancer, wheelchair bags, walker bags for local aged care facilities plus beanies, scarfs, mittens, rugs and helping our farmers in need. She collects and sends bags of goodies to children in need, theatre caps for our local hospital and bags for oncology; the list goes on and on.
HAPPY PAWS HAVEN
Happy Paws Haven provides a vital community service being the only not for profit no-kill animal sanctuary for cats and dogs in the Clarence Valley and throughout Northern NSW. Over the last 15 years they have rescued and rehomed over 3,000 animals many of which go to homes all over Australia. In 2020 they have assisted the community through adoption of companion animals to people who have been isolated as a result of COVID-19. They work with other community health organisations, enabling people to spend time with the animals without adopting them, especially children in care.
FRIENDS OF SUSAN AND ELIZABETH ISLAND
Friends of Susan and Elizabeth Island have recently undertaken a huge amount of environmental work on the islands, all with an enormous amount of volunteer labour. The Friends get together at least once per month on a Saturday and visit either Susan or Elizabeth Island to undertake important rehabilitation work including removing weeds and planting native species. Over the past 12 months interest in this group is growing and new volunteers are joining each month. The total volunteer hours spent on the islands in the past 12 months is estimated to be 250 hours. The Friends do this work because they have a goal that both Susan and Elizabeth Islands can be weed-free, regenerated to their natural subtropical rainforest. Much progress has already been made toward this goal.
REBUILD NYMBOIDA COMMUNITY - NYMBOIDA RECOVERY TEAM
The Nymboida Recovery Team formed within days of the Nymboida firestorm that destroyed over 90 houses on 8/11/19. A community recovery hub was set up by Gray Stride at the Canoe Centre with Georgia Foster-Eyles, Fiona Passmore and Pamela Denise as the primary go to people, aided by numerous others. The hub provided emergency accommodation, water, food and garbage disposal services for the community who were trapped behind the fire front. Georgia set up Facebook sites, co-ordinated donations and managed the community tool shed to loan equipment for recovery. Fiona co-ordinated the volunteer labour teams. Pamela co-ordinated the fair distribution of raised funds, developed the Nymboida Community Action Plan and co-ordinated the community event to acknowledge 12 months since the horrific fires. Their efforts were exceptional and are a case study in how to do local led community recovery after an emergency.
WESTPAC RESCUE HELICOPTER OP SHOPS
The Op Shops raise money to support the vital free service of the Westpac Rescue Life Saver Helicopter which is on call 24/7 and is tasked every day to perform rescues, assist with medical emergencies, transport patients and save lives. The service is free to anyone who needs it and relies on donations to continue its life saving work. The Op Shops in Yamba and South Grafton are operated entirely by volunteers and were forced to close in March due to COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, a number of volunteers were unable to return to help when the shops tried to reopen in July. Those that could volunteer did an incredible job of undertaking the necessary COVID safe training and adapted new procedures to help ensure the shops could reopen safely for their fellow volunteers and valued customers. Their dedication and passion to help support the Rescue Helicopter and their local community has been remarkable during a time of great uncertainty and difficulty.
Sue is a member of multiple local groups including the Rural Fire Service (RFS), knitted knockers (breast cancer) and warm touch (local community group). Sue also donates items for multiple fundraisers from her family bee business as well as her time. She also provided daycare throughout COVID-19 even though it meant she couldn't visit her newborn granddaughter.
On the evening of 8/11/19 Lawrence RFS Captain Scott Campbell went above and beyond helping community members, something which almost cost him his life. As a firestorm approached Nymboida, Scott stayed with a resident while other fire crews fell back to safer positions. He helped the resident defend their home until all resources were spent. They evacuated just as the main fire front approached but were caught in the fire while leaving the property which caused their vehicle to break down. As the firestorm swept over them while trapped inside the car, they came very close to death. Scott managed to get the vehicle going and, incredibly, once he delivered the resident to a nearby ambulance, he continued helping more residents long into the night.
John displays dedication to preserve the history of Yamba. He has worked as a voluntary research officer for the past 17 years with the Port of Yamba Historical Society. If not for John spending the endless, selfless hours researching and documenting this information, Yamba's history would be lost. You will find John officiating at the Yamba Historical Museum on Open Days, always available to share his knowledge with interested visitors. He was recently acknowledged in The Daily Examiner (27/6/20) titled '41,808 Editions and Counting' for his endless hours, meticulously combing through every Daily Examiner, photographing and cataloguing all references made to Yamba and its surrounds. He has published four books about Yamba's history.
Eddie has been a valuable member of both Copmanhurst RFS and SES units. He joined the SES in 2007 and is currently the Deputy Commander. He joined the RFS in 2012 and is currently the RFS Captain. Eddie and his RFS unit were instrumental in helping to save many people's homes and lives with their tireless efforts during the disastrous bushfires in 2019. His actions during this time were invaluable. He also trains in storm and water, and flood boating. Eddie has co-ordinated operations in many local floods as well as attending other areas during other major floods. Eddie is only too happy to assist and volunteers at other community events that benefit the community.
Sally has been contributing to the community since July 2006 when she determined that an animal rescue and rehoming no-kill sanctuary was needed for local pets that were in distress through mistreatment, abandonment and poor health. From this came the decision to form a recognised animal welfare group in Grafton; April 2007 Happy Paws Haven was incorporated. Over 3,000 pets have been adopted since 2006. Sally educates volunteers, carers and work experience students in all aspects of responsible pet care and ownership. She encourages members of the community to volunteer at Happy Paws Haven to clean, care for and interact with the companion animals.
Following the 8/11/19 bushfire emergency at Nymboida where over 90 houses were lost, Gray established an emergency recovery centre at the Nymboida Canoe Centre within a day of the firestorm that devastated Nymboida. He organised emergency food, water and accommodation for hundreds of people trapped behind the fire front and became the public face for the community dealing with the emergency agencies and the press. He was involved in setting up a group of four community coordinators to organise the recovery. Gray used his training as an emergency whitewater rescuer to oversee the emergency response. He did this at the same time when his own river guide business was severely impacted by the drought, fires and COVID-19.
YOUNG CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Michael deserves to be nominated for the Young Citizen of the Year award for his continued involvement in the community. Michael is the first to put up his hand and offer help to the community in a number of ways whether it be for upcoming elections or social gatherings run by local members. Michael is also an executive member of the Chamber of Commerce.
Kalani is the most dedicated 15 year old in the Clarence Valley. She is dedicated to training independently every day and wants to become the next Indigenous Ironwoman and compete in the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series. She is a volunteer lifeguard at Yamba Main Beach, has two jobs; all while attending Maclean High School. Kalani's outstanding list of 2020 results include 2020 - SLSNSW Age State Championships U15's 6th Ironwoman, 7th Ocean Swim; 2020 - SLSNSW Envirobank Country Championships U15's 1st 2km beach run, 2nd surf race, 2nd Ironwoman, U15's 2nd board race, U15's 2nd rescue tube. She also has an impressive list of achievements from 2019.