Community News

Those who excel in the community

The Australia Day awards recognise community members who are great at what they do, beyond what would reasonably be expected in their profession, contribute to Clarence Valley society and inspires those around them. The Clarence Valley Australia Day awards recognise community member in the following four categories; Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Local Hero and Community Organisation.

The nominations for citizen of the year:

Bruce Bird – Bruce has run the Wooli Post Office for 17 years and is known as the go-to man for community members or visitors of Wooli, Minnie Water and Diggers Camp as he is always there to assist. Bruce participates in many organisations and committees such as the Lions Club, Coastal Community Protection Alliance, SES and Community First Responder, to name but a few; he goes beyond what is expected of him.

Dannielle Bower – Dannielle has risen above adverse situations to become a role model and advocate in our community. Dannielle is a survivor of bowel cancer and has used her knowledge to increase the awareness of bowel cancer by creating ‘Poppy, the Travelling Bowel Cancer Awareness Poo Emoji’, a symbol used as an ice breaker to get people of all ages talking about bowel cancer.

Bob Carnaby – Bob always assists people in need and learns new skills to help them out. He established a branch of ‘The Lab’ (a technology club for young people with autism/aspergers) which Bob runs on weekends. He is a volunteer stroke ambassador for The Stroke Foundation delivering presentations on stroke prevention. He provides support for cancer survivors and is an active member of the Ngerrie Land Council and Aboriginal Men’s Group.

Patrick Connelly – Pat has been helping the community for the past 50 years with his charity work as a volunteer with Red Rock and Woolgoolga Surf Life Saving clubs and Grafton Hockey Assoc, as a mentor with Youth of the Streets and Youth Suicide Prevention, Aboriginal Youth and is a Grafton U3A member. Patrick is a ‘larger than life’ identity throughout the Clarence Valley. Awarded an OAM 2019.

Ray Flaherty – Ray was on the board of the Iluka Bowling Club for 18 years and served as President for five years. He was a national bowls umpire for 30 years and he brought the skills that transformed the Club to its present state of excellence. He was also a delegate for the Iluka RSL for 8 years. He helped to bring the Sandpipers Day Club to the Bowling Club and is a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Ray is very devoted to serving his community at Iluka. 

Brian Frederiksen – Brian has been a volunteer fire fighter for many years and is still attending many horrendous fires, not only in the Clarence Valley but in other areas also. He is loved by the local communities of Wooli (where he was employed by Council) and Minnie Water. As Brian is a ‘first responder’ he is also called upon to attend car accidents etc.

Stephanye Holden – Stephanye has been the Ashby Rural Fire Service Brigade Secretary for the past eight years, is an active fire fighter here and around the state and is captain of the Clarence Valley RFS Catering Unit providing invaluable support to frontline fire fighters during the recent bushfires. Stephanye also supports those in palliative care. Other activities she is involved in include dragon boat racing, Women’s Shed at Townsend and assisting at the Ashby markets. 

Jojo Newby – Jojo has always had a passion for Australian agriculture and the struggles of local farmers during times of drought, an example of this was when Jojo helped with a fundraising campaign that resulted in more than $70,000 worth of donations including her own pledge of $1,000 from her real estate property sales to the Buy a Bale Foundation. Jojo was recognised for her hard work when she became a finalist in the 2018 Shine Awards for Spirit.

Lee Taylor – Lee not only volunteers in so many community groups in Grafton but also attends other organisations’ fundraisers. You will see Lee at most charity fundraisers in town from trivia nights, barefoot bowls, gala balls, Jaca fun run, Rotary fundraisers, music and food truck festivals. Her support with the Helping Hands Night for Julie Holder was just outstanding and heart warming and she should be recognised for being a true supporter of our community.

Bessie (Elizabeth) Webb – Bessie is an active member of the Glenreagh community. She is on the Glenreagh Progress Association, coordinates the School of the Arts (local hall), helps run the local museum and is a member of the Orara Valley Lions Club. Bessie bakes for fundraisers and helps create the floral tribute wreaths for ANZAC Day. She has organised the local Australia Day celebrations and is a big part of many organisations and events.

Brian Woods – Brian is a volunteer with the Southampton Rural Fire Service where he was Group Captain for many years. He now trains volunteers to become fully qualified fire fighters. He has a very calming manner and is always helpful to everyone he deals with. Brian is a good ambassador for the Rural Fire Service in building relationships with local landowners.

The nominations for Community Achievement:

The Gallery Foundation LTD – The Gallery Foundation supports the growth and vibrancy of the Grafton Regional Gallery while engaging the community in many events. The Gallery Foundation has raised over $450,000. It has directly or indirectly contributed over $110,000 to the Gallery’s infrastructure and collection by generating interest and financial support from the community through fundraising activities and by applying for grants and seeking donations.

Yamba Lions Club – The Yamba Lions Club is dedicated to serving their community. They continually support the local community by way of fundraising such as bingo and raffles at various Clubs in Yamba, food vans, street markets, food festivals, preparing and serving over 170 meals for Yamba Seniors Week and they provide train sets and merry-go-rounds when requested.

The nominations for Local Hero:

Coralee Blanchard – For the past 7 years Coralee has been working as a volunteer caring for animals. She is committee Vice President at Happy Paws Haven, ensuring that animals and their stories are on Instagram. She volunteers regularly caring for the plants in the fragrant gardens at Copmanhurst and is a member of Copmanhurst RFS.

Amanda Hottes – Amanda’s work colleagues call her an ‘angel of this earth’ and their ‘super hero/team leader’ because she supports her staff to reach their potential. She is always there for others who need help, finding solutions to their issues. Amanda has proven that people who suffer from mental illness, disabilities, from non English speaking backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders all deserve to get to their full potential. 

Norma Jenkins – Norma visits the Mareeba Aged Care facility weekly, and has done so for the past 9 years, distributing chocolates, fruit, lollies and magazines to different groups and conversing with as many residents as time allows. Norma used to drive her car to Mareeba, experiencing difficulty in walking to the entrance but she solved the problem by purchasing a motorised scooter so she could continue her weekly visits. 

Sally Rodgers – Sally’s vision to have a better world for dogs and cats enabling them to have loving and caring homes is why Happy Paws Haven was created. It has saved the lives of approximately 3,000 animals since its inception. Happy Paws Haven gives an opportunity for community members and groups to come to the sanctuary as volunteers or visitors and interact with dogs and cats. 

Jenny Vickery – Jenny is the founder and main coordinator of the group Warm Touch 2460. She almost single handedly delegates and coordinates the activities of the group, including handling enquiries and managing donations. Donations include items for oncology and breast cancer patients and survivors, aged care facility residents, children’s wards, farmers affected by the drought and those impacted by fire disaster.

The nominations for Young Citizen of the Year:

Eden Annesley – Eden makes significant contribution to the local community as Concert Master of Clarence Valley Orchestra and Chorus. Eden has achieved incredibly high standard for her age attaining the ‘Associate in Music’ in Violin, a diploma awarded to outstanding candidates in the fields of musical performance and music theory by the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB).

Tahlia Marsh – Tahlia aspires to be the next Australian Superclass Female MX Champion. She started racing BMX bikes at 7 years old, following in the footsteps of her two brothers. During the 9 years she has competed in 3 World Championships around the globe. In 2019 she became Australian National Champion and Jnr female sportsperson of the year.

Darcy Taylor-Robert – Darcy started as a volunteer at Happy Paws Haven a year ago while doing his bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. He assists the Shelter Manager every second weekend with the dogs and cats, feeding them and learning about their care. Darcy gives his time voluntarily with an unwavering commitment and care. Darcy is aiming to complete his Silver Duke of Edinburgh award this year.