Passionate Environmental Role Model Named Burdekin’s Top Citizen

A man with a passion and determination to improve the local environment has been named the Burdekin’s 2012 Citizen of the Year.

Graham Andersen was awarded the top honour at the Burdekin’s official Australia Day ceremony today.

In presenting the award at the Burdekin Theatre in Ayr, Burdekin Mayor Councillor Lyn McLaughlin described Mr Andersen as a long-term conservationist and the driving force behind the Lower Burdekin Landcare Association.

“His desire to contribute to the local community through Landcare projects has won him the respect of all in natural resource management circles as the ‘go to’ man in the Burdekin,” she said.

“Graham was the driving force behind conducting the State Landcare Conference in the Burdekin last year.

“Visiting delegates were impressed with the level of professionalism, organisation and hospitality on display during the conference, and Graham’s ability to deliver a conference of such magnitude and his ongoing dedication to the environment is worthy of public recognition.”

Cr McLaughlin said Mr Andersen was involved in a number of projects in the community including refurbishing the Landcare nursery, delivering a Climate Change forum, overseeing projects such as the East Ayr State School’s Carbon Sink and he was also instrumental in publishing the popular Burdekin Tree Guide.

The Burdekin’s Young Citizen of the Year Award went to two recipients – Danny Burke and Stuart Woods.

Danny Burke was nominated for his outstanding contribution to the local community through his involvement in school, sporting, church and community events. Mr Burke was vice captain at Burdekin Catholic High School last year and was active in all aspects of school life including sports, school musicals and by leading school assemblies.

Stuart Woods was nominated for his exceptional community spirit. Mr Woods was School Captain of Home Hill State High School last year and volunteered at a large number of community events, including Relay for Life, Clean Up Australia Day and Anzac Day ceremonies. He has taken part in the Burdekin Interschool Drama Festival from 2007-2011 and is a member of the Burdekin Singers.

The Senior Sports Award was presented to Patrea Bojack who recently represented Australia in the 4th International Basque Handball Championship final in Chile. This was her third world championship in a row since taking up the sport in 2009. Ms Bojack has adapted her tennis skills to Basque Handball, showing the world that Aussie can do anything.

The Junior Sports Award was awarded to Justin Haller for his achievements in power lifting and body building. Mr Haller currently holds four Australian weight-lifting records and is ranked tenth in the open under-93kg division in Australia.

The Sports Administrator Award winner Alexander Lawson is well known for his accomplishments and dedication to boxing within the Burdekin Shire. Mr Lawson boxed competitively until the age of 23 and then took up coaching local boxers. He has coached several boxers to State Competition level and one through to the Australia Titles last year.

The Senior Cultural Award went to long-term Burdekin Singers and Theatre Company member Corinna Polga, who has spent more than 30 years on stage and behind the scenes. Mrs Polga works at the St Francis Primary School library and is secretary of the  Burdekin Singers and Theatre Company.

The Junior Cultural Award was presented to Sophie Ricca for her contribution to the local community. Miss Ricca is known for her beautiful singing voice and has been a member of the Burdekin Singers since the age of nine. She has competed in eisteddfods since she was eight. She has been a member of the Burdekin Shire Youth Council since 2009 and was elected secretary in 2010 and Youth Mayor in 2011.

The Community Event of the Year went to the Home Hill Centenary Picnic in the Park and Gala Dinner Celebrations. Three years of planning culminated in an event held last December to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first land ballots at Home Hill. Many accolades were received from those who attended the Picnic in the Park and Gala Dinner. This event truly brought the community together and revealed residents had a passion for the history of district and its pioneering families.

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