Council recognises 2019 Australia Day award recipients

Media release - 25 January 2019

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The tireless efforts and outstanding contributions of Macleay citizens and community groups were recognised tonight at Kempsey Shire Council’s Australia Day Awards ceremony.

Mayor Liz Campbell, together with our Australia Day Ambassador Diana Ryall AM, announced the recipients of this year’s awards at a ceremony at the Slim Dusty Centre.

“Congratulations to all the worthy recipients of our Australia Day awards. It’s wonderful to be able to formally recognise the time and efforts that these inspiring citizens give willingly and selflessly to make our community a better place,” Cr Campbell said.

Council received a record number of nominations this year and is proud to announce the following recipients.

Citizen of the Year (joint recipient) - Holly Gaddes and Josh Ball

Holly Gaddes

Holly is a dedicated member of the South West Rocks community who volunteers tirelessly under the motto: “We Are Better Together”.

Holly spearheaded the creation of the South West Rocks Sport and Recreation Association (SWRS&RA) which successfully worked with Kempsey Shire Council for the $3.3million Mid-North Coast High Performance Centre. She initiated the Horseshoe Bay Reserve parkrun and started the South West Rocks Synergy group, which includes local groups and organisations who meet and network twice a year.

Josh Ball

Josh has generously dedicated countless hours to organising the Macleay Hay Run, dedicating hours and truck hire to get food and hay to drought-stricken farmers. Joining forces with Australian farming charity, Aussie Helpers, Mr Ball helped to deliver more than 2,500 round bales, 30 tonnes of molasses and several tonnes of groceries to needy farmers across regional NSW.

Young Citizen of the Year - Soleil Szita

Locally-trained 14-year-old dancer and performer Soleil Szita has represented the Macleay Valley with pride at the highest of levels.

In 2018, Soleil achieved amazing milestones and won many accolades at several national and international dance competitions, including:

  • Winning “Miss Teen Dancer of the Seas&rdq at the Hollywood-bound Dance Championships against dancers from across Australia and New Zealand
  • Qualifying for the World Dance Championships; and
  • Being awarded a scholarship to the World Dance Championships in Florida for 2019.

Soleil also has found a passion for teaching and has assisted in teaching dance and gymnastics classes and is training to become a dance teacher.

Community Group of the Year - Macleay Valley Coast Diabetes Group

Since it was formed nine years ago, the Macleay Valley Coast Diabetes Group has raised more than $350,000 in funding for locals living with Type 1 Diabetes.

The aim of the group is to raise awareness of diabetes in our local community, as well as provide practical support for those living with the disease. Some of the Group’s activities include: hospital and home support, and the purchase of essential equipment for ongoing management of glucose levels for both children and adults.

The Macleay Valley Coast Diabetes Group has done an outstanding job of improving the quality of care for those diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in our local community and touched the lives of many with their ongoing care and generous support, both financial and non-financial.

Volunteer of the Year - Jane Walsh

Jane is passionate about making the Macleay a better place for all - particularly for our youth - through her volunteer work with scouting, sporting and performing arts groups.

Jane has been involved with 1st Kempsey Scout Group as a leader for the Venturer section since 1990 and has been Leader in Charge for the last 10 years.

She is a Life Member of the Saints Soccer Club where she has been involved as a committee member since 2003

Jane has also volunteered for a number of years on the Kempsey District Eisteddfod in various roles and has helped to organise and run the last four Kempsey Relay for Life events.

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