Bellingen Shire recently held their 2022 Australia Day Awards Ceremony, celebrating the unsung heroes in the community who have contributed in some way to the betterment of the Shire.
Hosted by the Dorrigo Lions Club and supported by Council, the day featured a free barbecue breakfast and light refreshments.
A Welcome to Country ceremony and award presentations presided over by newly elected Mayor, Cr Stephen Allan.
"Given the calibre of this year's applicants, all nominees should feel extremely proud of their achievements," Cr Allan said.
"Seven awards were presented to acknowledge our local farmers and volunteers' efforts to protect our natural environment and to celebrate the achievements of our local artists and sports stars.
"Many of these people give their time freely throughout our Shire to help others, and that's why this year we have also added a new award category called the 'Community Resilience Award' to recognise the combined efforts of our local medical and health professionals."
Active & Healthy Award: Abby Raymond
Abby has been a member of the Pony Club for 12 years, progressing from a beginner through to a national level. Her greatest achievement was in 2020 competing in Sydney for the Pony Club National event in Tetrathalon. Abby also helps run fundraising events and tutors her peers to help them perform at their best during competitions.
Arts Award: Violet Preston
Violet is described as a precious matriarch of the community with a heart of gold and a pure desire to serve and help others. While selflessly giving of her time as a volunteer wherever possible, she often serves via her amazing creative skills. Her talent is undeniable, but it's the love that goes into her art and crafts that make them so special.
Leading On The Land Award: Georgina and Sam Baker (Levenvale Farm)
Georgina and Sam apply innovative practices focussed on regenerative farming to sustainably farm, produce organic beef and nurture the land. They frequently work with local chefs, abattoirs, retailers and butchers to improve their product.
Karma Award: Bernard (Spot) Swales
Spot works tirelessly as a volunteer for the community across a range of organisations. He is passionate about supporting veterans and families of veterans no longer alive. He is also the Honorary Treasurer of the Bellinger River RSL Sub-Branch, a member of Legacy Coffs Coast and volunteers at the Veteran Centre Mid North Coast.
(Award Winner): Dorrigo Volunteer Environmental Groups
Dorrigo Volunteer Environmental Groups have cared for Bielsdown River Walk and revegetated the banks of the Bielsdown River. They have also planted Arctic Beech Trees at Rocky Creek Reserve and cleaned up the Liquid Amber along Jubilee Avenue following severe weather events.
(Highly Commended): Bellingen Riverwatch Volunteers
Bellingen Riverwatch's 40 Water Quality Management volunteers and five local schools work together to test the water quality of the Bellinger and Kalang catchments, which is the largest river health citizen science project in New South Wales.
(Award Winner): May Smith
May is a kind, selfless woman who gives tirelessly of herself to the community. From facilitating the 'Bowl of Plenty' movement where locals in need can go to have a nutritious meal, to co-ordinating all manner of local support.
(Highly Commended): Sri Popuri
Sri Popuri has been the Pharmacist at Dorrigo for several years and is known as a customer focussed and friendly pharmacist. Throughout the fires, floods and pandemic Sri has made the long journey from Coffs Harbour to Dorrigo six days a week to ensure the community is supported and protected.
Resilience Award: Bellingen Shire's Local Medical and Health Professionals
Representatives from the local medical and health professions worked tirelessly to establish a local COVID-19 Clinic and commence testing long before any State or Federal Government testing clinics were operational.
The group of individuals who played a role is extensive and representatives of those involved were invited to attend the Australia Day Awards Ceremony including:
Lydia Dennett, General Manager Coffs Harbour Health Campus
In recognition of the community support that the Neighbourhood Care Network (NCN) have provided, they too were acknowledged, with Kerry Pearce receiving the Resilience Award on behalf of the NCN.
Now an independent incorporated community organisation, the NCN:
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