Current Australia Day Award Recipients
Australia Day celebrations were held at the Burdekin Theatre on Tuesday 26th January 2021 where residents were recognised for the their community spirit. The Burdekin Shire Council Australia Day Awards recognise members of our community who have made an outstanding contribution to the community, and for exceptional achievement in many areas.
Nominees – Colin Casswell and Les Henaway
I am privileged to announce the 2021 Citizen of the Year Award is presented to Mr Colin Casswell.
Col Casswell is a stalwart and active member of the Home Hill Tennis Association for the past 40 years. He has been on the Management Committee, holding the executive position of secretary and is an incredible role model to others through his leadership, not only in management but also as a player. Col has represented the Association countless times, with his trademark great sportsmanship shown both on and off the court.
Col has been instrumental in acquiring many improvements to club facilities and operations, as a key member of the grant subcommittee writing, applying, and being successful in receiving almost one million dollars in grant funding.
For over 20 years, Col Casswell has been one of the main organisers of the Home Hill Sugar Bowl, one of the largest adult team tennis events in Queensland which continues to flourish. The largest number of entries were expected in 2020 however, the event was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
On a regional and state level, Col was Home Hill Tennis Association’s regional delegate for 13 years, appointed a company member of Tennis Queensland in 2014 and in 2018 he was elected as a Director.
He continues to be a positive role model for all ages and skill levels, welcoming new, existing and prospective members and taking the time to mentor all new committee members.
Outside of tennis, Col has volunteered his time as secretary of the East Ayr State School P&C for 10 years and was a steering committee member of the Home Hill Community Bank that commenced in 2003. He was a Director of the Board of the Bank for 15 years, serving as Deputy chair for 7 years. In 2017 The Board acquired the Ayr branch of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
Col Casswell is a shining example of someone who never stops working for what he is passionate about, fostering those same passions in the next generation.
Each year the Citizen of the Year is awarded a piece of art. This year Colin is being presented with a framed photograph of our iconic Burdekin Bridge which was taken by Callan Lund of It’s Not a Toy Photography.
The 2021 Young Citizen of the Year Award is presented to Sarah McDonnell.
Sarah McDonnell is a motivated, compassionate, committed and enthusiastic young person who strives to make a difference and contribute to her local, state and national community with passion and enthusiasm.
Although only 17 years old, Sarah has an outstanding record of community service and even with studying in her senior year of high school, Sarah’s love for volunteering, where no job is too big or small, has seen her involved in numerous projects and events and through her hard work Sarah continued to make a positive difference with all that she was involved with.
Sarah was School Captain of Ayr High and President of the Student Council and initiated many new projects including assisting with the launch of the Doors to Inspiration project, spreading positive messages through murals, was a founding member in the development of Global Hawks, a joint recycling initiative of Interact and Student Council – the program not only raises money for the Student Council, but contributed to the global community by donating to Lids for Kids and Pull Tabs for Wheelchairs, all while promoting environmental sustainability.
In 2019, Sarah introduced the Share the Dignity program into the Burdekin and in 2020 Sarah singlehandedly introduced the Speak Loud Stand Proud campaign to build on the Share the Dignity program. Sarah raised an incredible $2500 and collected over 290 sanitary packs.
Sarah continuously nominates herself for programs which will further extend her abilities and develop her as an individual, showing her dedication and motivation to excel. Last year Sarah was selected as one of 200 students from across Australia to attend the national Youth Forum and one of 40 students selected to attend the QUT Young Accelerators program working with leaders in scientific research field, and one of 20 students selected from the Townsville region to attend the Heroes in Health at James Cook University and Mater Hospital.
Sarah was a member of the Burdekin Shire Youth Council; received Academic Excellence awards, leadership and citizenship awards and was named the North Queensland Young Volunteer of the Year.
The 2021 Citizen of the Year Achievement Award is presented to Les Henaway.
Les Henaway is a deserving recipient of this achievement award as despite being 80 years old, he hasn’t slowed down in his efforts to help others in the community and inspire people of all ages.
Les worked on farms cutting cane from a young age. Many believed Les was too young for the job and so as not to let his team down, he started working an hour earlier than the others.
At nineteen Les began playing competition rugby league in the Burdekin. He initially played for Hornets and went on to representing Queensland Rugby League. He was selected to captain coach the NQ All blacks and later the Qld All Blacks side.
Les moved his family to Mt Isa, continuing to coach there whilst working in the mines. It was in Mount Isa that he began attending church and this is where he found his calling. It did not take long for him to become Assistant Minister and, eventually, Senior Minister and Chairman of the Christian School in Mount Isa.
After returning to the Burdekin, Les was appointed as Assistant Minister at the Burdekin Community Church in 1993, before becoming Senior Minister. During this time, his Church owned a small bus which travelled around town on Friday nights assisting local youth.
Whilst now retired, he remains heavily involved in the community with hospital and aged home visits, wedding and funeral officiations.
The recipient of the Citizen of the Year Achievement Award has had a significant impact on those he has worked with over the years, breaking down many barriers and bringing communities and cultures together.
Nominees – Sweet Days Hot Nights Virtual Festival, Christmas Lights Display by Jeffrey Lunn and Leon McCormack, Laurie's Love 24 Hour Row for a Cure,
The 2021 Community Event of the Year is the Laurie’s Love 24 Hour Row for a Cure.
The award will be accepted by the Row for a Cure Committee Andrea Piotto, Dave Sexton, Lauren Delle Baite, Tammy Quagliata and Laurie’s wife Julie Pavone.
Laurie's Love 24hr Row for a Cure was one of the only physical events to occur in the Burdekin in 2020, thanks to careful planning and COVID Safe precautions taken by its volunteer organising committee.
It was first held in 2019 in honour of well-known local Laurence Pavone to fundraise for Brain Cancer awareness and research. The lead up to the 2020 row saw many smaller events across schools, businesses and the wider community spreading the message of positivity, support and love while fundraising for an organisation close to the hearts of many Burdekin residents.
The whole community was on board whether they were rowing, supporting a rower, cooking, serving, volunteering or simply popping in to say hi and grab a bite to eat. Community members put up their hands to donate raffle prizes, food, drinks, cake stall items, signage, live performances and everything else in between. The vibe in the Marcellin Centre at BCHS was ecstatic from start to finish. From grandparents sitting on camp chairs enjoying watching the teams’ row, teenagers listening to the live music and children enjoying the kids korner activities, there really was something for everyone.
The success of the 2020 row exceeded everyone’s expectations with a over 120 rowers taking on the challenge, not only in the Burdekin but one team in Thursday Island and one participant in Melbourne. The 2019 total was smashed with a total of more than $150,000 raised for Brain Cancer awareness.
The Laurie’s Love 24 Hr Row for a Cure was first chosen as an event that would test everyone both mentally and physically – it was chosen to represent the emotion and battle that Brain Cancer sufferers go through. This is an incredible legacy which the Burdekin community has rallied behind.
Congratulations to all involved with Laurie’s Love 24 Hr Row for a Cure.
This year the judges have decided to present an Achievement Award in the Community Event of the Year category.
The Community Event of the Year Achievement Award is presented to the Sweet Days Hot Nights Virtual Festival.
Following the significant restrictions on staging events that were imposed as a response to the 2020 COVID 19 pandemic, this award recognises the innovative and exceptional undertaking of a small team to present the first ever Virtual Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival.
The event adapted significantly in 2020 following national mass gathering restrictions, and with the sugar cane crushing season still proceeding, the team took a new approach, filming content that transformed a three-day physical festival into a three-week virtual event.
Council staff produced videos that featured interviews with iconic locals, footage of the first fire of the year from start to finish, and an introduction to five of the cultures that call the Burdekin home. The virtual event provided something for isolated families to look forward to at 7pm every night for three weeks and brought more attention to the Burdekin than the festival’s previous events. The event received local, state, national and international following, reaching over 120,000 viewers.
Congratulations to all involved with the Sweet Days Hot Nights Virtual Festival!
This category was introduced to recognise the incredible selflessness and dedication of individuals across the Shire, especially in a year where we spent more time at home and relied on community spirit more than ever.
The inaugural 2021 Volunteer of the Year is Jason Williams.
Jason Williams is a strong, community-minded and dedicated volunteer. Over the past 17 years, Jason has worked tirelessly for the Burdekin Junior Rugby League holding many roles including serving as President, Vice President, Coaching Coordinator and is an Accredited Referee. Throughout the years he has continued to coach junior players.
Jason is a much-loved and respected member of their club and was instrumental in the inception and development of the Shane Muspratt Cup first held in 2014; a carnival which has grown to welcome over 500 junior Rugby League players from across Queensland to Rugby Park annually.
More recently Jason put his time to use advocating for funds for a multipurpose building set to include dressing sheds, disabled bathroom facilities, office and referees’ room. A grant application that was put on hold due to the re-allocation of funds because of COVID-19, received new-found support in the lead up to the state election to the tune of $1 million. The Club now awaits finalisation of this funding commitment which will enhance facilities at Rugby Park significantly.
His passion and respect not only for the game of Rugby League but for the players, families, committee, club, and the wider community is nothing short of remarkable.
The recipient of the Senior Cultural Award has had such a positive impact locally that he was nominated twice.
The 2021 Senior Cultural Award is presented to David Guy.
David Guy is described as the backbone of any organisation he is a part of; the person individuals and organisations can rely on when they need something done. He never seeks any form of acknowledgment and is just happy to see his vision and that of their friends and colleagues come to life.
David is a teacher at Burdekin Catholic High School and has volunteered his trade skills over many years for the benefit of local organisations including Burdekin Singers senior productions and junior theatre restaurants, all high schools’ musicals and Perform Music’s concert. He designs and builds countless sets and props, as well as organising and co-ordinating volunteers, artists, riggers and electricians so local artists can perform at such a professional level.
Outside of his comfort space, David volunteers for other community activities.
David Guy is one of the most patient giving men and the Burdekin has benefitted from his skills and grace for many years.
Nominees – Clara Hutton and Hayley Nosworthy
The 2020 Junior Cultural Award is presented to Clara Hutton.
Clara Hutton has an extensive and diverse history of participating in cultural activities. She was nominated for her dedication from a young age and her desire to pursue a cultural career path in the future.
Clara has been a cast member of 22 musicals with her school, Burdekin Singers Junior and Senior productions; she has studied and performed ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance for 12 years, has studied drama for six years and has taken singing lessons for eight years.
Her love for cultural activities has seen her give back to the community across a number of these disciplines and also assisting backstage.
Clara Hutton was Burdekin Singers Junior Ambassador nominee for the Water Festival; performed with Melbourne City Ballet at the Burdekin Theatre and has been awarded Music and Drama Dux at Ayr State High School.
Her dedication to be successful has seen her chose to miss numerous personal events to practice and perform. Her happy place is when she is performing!
This year, the judges were incredibly impressed with the calibre of nominees for the Junior Cultural Award and have also selected a Junior Cultural Achievement Award.
The 2021 Junior Cultural Achievement Award is presented to Hayley Nosworthy.
At the tender age of 4, Hayley Nosworthy began her love of cultural activities through singing and dancing and performing at numerous Burdekin Junior Eisteddfods. Hayley has participated in a wide variety of cultural events and is a member of many local and school groups.
Since 2008 Hayley has been a cast member in many Junior and Senior shows with Burdekin Singers; she is an avid student of Perform Music and has performed with the group at many community events; and has assisted teaching at Simply Dance with her teacher Miss Melissa.
It’s her passion and dedication for what she does which the judges believed deserved recognition, as she lights up the stage every time she performs.
The 2021 Senior Sportsperson of the Year Award is presented to Josie Coddington.
Josie Coddington is well-known as a bright and bubbly personality by fellow club members and for the past three years has been a valuable and active member of both the Home Hill Tennis Association and the Burdekin Rugby Union Club. During this time, she has taken on many roles and innovated in ways that have attracted new demographics to each sport.
Josie has volunteered to assist in whatever ways the clubs required, including driving the team bus for trips away, running Come and Try days, coaching teams and being an active player.
In tennis, Josie has held the roles of Vice President, Minutes Secretary and Open Court Facilitator where new members are welcomed to the Association. In 2018, Josie was awarded female Club Champion.
In rugby union, Josie Coddington kick started the teenage girls and ladies’ teams. She has been awarded Club Person of the Year, the Don Marshall Award for club contribution and Player of the Year in the Open Ladies team. She was selected as a member of the Townsville Brolgas and a member of the Queensland Grey team.
When competing Josie Coddington lost and won with grace like a great champion.
The 2021 Junior Sportsperson of the Year Award is presented to Isabella Moloney.
As a member of the Ayr Surf Life Saving Club in 2020, Isabella Moloney was named Junior Club Captain, won the Ayr Junior Lifesaver of the Year Award, the North Barrier Branch Junior Lifesaver of the Year and the Queensland Under 14 Lifesaver of the Year.
Despite a lot of competitions and events being cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions, Isabella Moloney achieved a lot in 2020. While still juggling schoolwork and a busy social life, she represented the Burdekin proudly, and was awarded a State title.
Isabella’s achievements demonstrate that you don’t have to be from a big city to achieve great things – all it takes is dedication, passion and hard work. This young lady is a proud ambassador of her sport, raising public interest and awareness while still finding time to train. She assisted with the organisation and running of the inaugural ‘Camp Alva’ and was a mentor for attendees, assisted with training of nippers, and achieved her Surf Rescue Certificate and commenced volunteer patrolling at Alva Beach performing almost 40 hours of patrolling and 23 hours of water safety.