LEADERS of two of Home Hill’s major sporting organisations have taken the local honours amongst the many awards handed out to citizens of the Burdekin Shire in the annual Australia Day awards announced at the presentation ceremony held at the Burdekin Theatre on Thursday, January 26.
President of the Burdekin Race Club, Ricky Gudge and Secretary of the Home Hill Tennis Association, Kate Casswell each made three appearances on stage during the ceremonies to receive awards for their own and their organisation’s work in their particular sports.
There was strong support for Australia Day in the Burdekin with a crowd of about 400 people at the Theatre for the presentations, which were highlighted by the announcement of respected Burdekin Police Liaison officer, Gerald Henaway as the Burdekin Shire’s Citizen of the Year.
In announcing the 2023 Citizen of the Year award, Mayor Lyn McLaughlin described Gerald Henaway as “a dedicated and well-respected Police Liaison Officer”.
She said he was respected by his peers as an exemplary community leader and was also recognised by the wider community for making an extraordinary contribution to the local community over many years.
“Not only is Gerald a role model to the young people that he supports, but also to other Police Liaison Officers in the Townsville and surrounding districts,” she said.
Gerald Henaway pioneered and is the current President of Burdekin Area Youth Watch (better known as BAY-Watch), a program which is aims to mentor and guide Indigenous young people through childhood and adolescence into adult life.
He also works tirelessly to support Indigenous young people, including to running youth and school holiday programs; transporting them to Sunday School, Touch Football Basketball; as well as driving them to Townsville to watch the North Queensland Cowboys play to name but a few.
“Gerald is a very humble man, lives his values and everything he does is motivated to give our young people the very best chance at life,” Cr McLaughlin said.
Mr Henaway was presented with a framed aerial photograph of the Burdekin Bridge (taken by Mark McDonald of Burdekin Drones).
Keynote speaker was Australia Day Ambassador, Selina Tomasich OAM, of the Sunshine Coast, who also assisted Mayor Lyn McLaughlin with the presentation of the Shire Australia Day awards.
The 2023 Young Citizen of the Year was presented to Zavier Wood who is regarded as a great role model for youth within his school community and the Shire Youth Council, while the judges also announced a Young Citizen of the Year Achievement Award, which was presented to Brent Dingle who is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities and has been asked to mentor younger children with Cerebral Palsy.
Lifetime Service Awards recognising the significant voluntary contribution of members of the shire to community organisations were presented to a large number of shire residents, including a number from Home Hill.
“We are very fortunate in our region to have volunteers of this calibre who through their selfless contribution of their own time and work have enriched numerous groups.,” Cr McLaughlin commented.
Bronze Awards for 20 plus years of voluntary contribution were presented to several members of the Burdekin Tourism Association including Joan Andersen, Michelle Darker, Flo Downing, Maureen Perry, Judy Petersen and Beth Wall.
Silver Awards (30 plus years) were presented to Kate Casswell (Tennis), Ricky Gudge (Rugby League and Racing) and Margaret Taylor (Uniting Church and YWAM).
A Gold Award (40 plus years) was presented to Desley Musumeci, who has volunteered on many committees, starting as a founder of the Rotaract Club in Home Hill (established in 1968).
The Australia Day Community Event of the Year was presented to The Burdekin Growers Race Day, which Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said was one of the Burdekin’s most celebrated community social events which is now entering its 25th year.
“It is a day celebrated with patrons socialising, dressing fashionably and greeting other racing enthusiasts that have travelled,” she said.
The Shire Volunteer of the Year was presented to Kate Casswell in recognition of her volunteer work in many and varied aspects of tennis in the Burdekin and wider areas of the state and Australia.
Volunteer of the Year Achievement Awards were presented to Michelle Darker and Ricky Gudge.
The winner of the Senior Cultural Award was Aileen Jones for excellence and dedication in the field of Arts and Culture while a Senior Cultural Achievement Award was presented to Eliza Worlein.
The Shire Environment Award was presented to Keith Kiloh for his outstanding dedication and commitment to environmental work.
The first Junior Sportsperson of the Year Awards was presented to Makayla Pirrone for her outstanding achievements in Swimming and Basketball while a second Junior Sportsperson of the Year Award was presented to Kiera Wiseman for her outstanding achievement in the sport of Waterskiing.
A Junior Sportsperson Achievement Award was presented to Ellyana Mugica for outstanding achievements in the sport of Football (Soccer).
The Senior Sportsperson of the Year Award was presented to Jarrod Langford for his outstanding achievements in Ten Pin Bowling. Jarrod was in the USA competing on the Professional Tenpin Bowling Association Tour and his Aunt, Rachel Webber accepted the award on his behalf.