Gunnedah Shire Citizen of the Year Tracey Reid and Young Citizen of the Year Steven Hopwood are the toast of the shire community after being honoured at the Australia Day awards dinner at the town hall.
The awards night atmosphere was enthusiastic and community spirit was on show as attendees celebrated the nominees and winners across the many categories.
Australia Day committee chair and acting mayor Rob Hooke welcomed the guests and nominees to Tuesday night’s celebration.
Cr. Hooke acknowledged fellow councillors Colleeen Fuller and Juliana McArthur Australia Day award winners as present at the dinner.
He also conveyed a message of congratulations from mayor Jamie Chaffey who was unable to attend the function.
“Tonight is a way of our community saying thank you,” Cr Hooke told the gathering.
“It’s important for us as a community to honour you for your efforts.” Cr Hooke thanked the night’s master- of-ceremonies Ray Darcey for his important role in the function.
Gunnedah’s Australia Day ambassador Fiona Simson was welcomed to the dais.
Mrs Simson, who grew up in Armidale and now lives on the Liverpool Plains, spoke at length about the importance of agriculture as well as the joys of being an Australian.
Following Mrs Simson’s speech, Gunnedah Conservatorium’s Meg Clowes provided a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem with her mother, Sandy Clark, on piano.
Reverend Simon Waller led the audience in grace.
Citizen of the Year, Tracey Reid, was praised at the gathering for her tireless efforts in spearheading the construction of the soon-to-be unveiled Allawah Cottage.
“As a result of her initial grant application, Jobs Australia Enterprises received funding to construct a house designed for women, children and their pets who need crisis accommodation in fleeing domestic violence,” her award nomination read.
“Since receiving the grant in 2019, Tracey has worked diligently both behind the scenes and as the face of the committee to ensure smooth running of the process and fundraise to allow the construction to continue.
“In a geographically isolated location with a lack of services and support available, Tracey’s advocacy is invaluable to support women and children experiencing the trauma of domestic violence.” Ms Reid was applauded as she made her way to the dais to accept the shire’s top honour.
She thanked the Allawah Cottage committee for making the project a reality.
“The Allawah Cottage committee are a group of predominately young working mums who work tirelessly to support Allawah cottage, we could not achieve what we do without them,” she said.
“Nigel Barlow (CEO) and Gavin Kay (deputy CEO) from Jobs Australia Enterprises for whom I work as a development coordinator for social enterprises, asked me to investigate areas of need for domestic violence victims.
“I identified the lack of crisis accommodation, and Jobs Australia Enterprises committed to buying a cottage in Gunnedah for victims experiencing domestic violence in New England and North West, we found the house, and Allawah Cottage was born.
“It hasn’t been smooth sailing,” Ms Reid said.
“I originally wrote a grant application to renovate and make suitable the old house, but after the builders started, it transpired that it was too far gone, and Jobs Australia Enterprises then arranged to demolish it, we converted the grant to a new build, but had insufficient funds to complete the build.” Ms Reid said the end result was an amazing response from the Gunnedah community and the Allawah Cottage committee was formed.
Young Citizen of the Year Steven Hopwood’s many community involvements were detailed to the gathering as he was announced as the winner of the honour.
Steven was described to the town hall gathering as someone who is actively involved in the community across many levels.
“Steven is a proactive member of the Gunnedah community who enjoys being involved and supporting others,” his nomination read.
Among Steven’s involvements is Meals on Wheels which nominated him for the award.
He became involved with the organisation in 2020 with an idea that meal recipients may be lonely in lockdown and that drawings or letters may brighten their day.
During the first lockdown, he drew pictures for meal recipients.
From there, he has written many letters to Meals on Wheels recipients in the hope that it will brighten their day and make them feel less alone.
Steven also created word puzzles during the 2021 lockdown period.
“More recently, Steven used his own funds earned from chores to purchase a gift voucher for one lucky Meals on Wheels recipient, while writing out Christmas card for each and every Meals on Wheel recipient.” In addition to Meals on Wheels, Steven is learning to fly and is a member of the Gunnedah Aero Club.
Steven has played league with Gunnedah Junior Rugby League Club, has participated in the Gunnedah Eisteddfod and has been closely involved with the Gunnedah Conservatorium.
Australia Day award winners
- Citizen of the Year (21 and Over) – Tracey Reid.
- Young Citizen of the Year (20 and Under) – Steven Hopwood.
- Ossie and Beryl Campbell Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award – Gunnedah Golf Club.
- Eve Turner Perpetual Trophy – Lynette Gleeson.
- Community and Cultural Achievement Award – Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society.
- Max and Mikie Maas Good Neighbour Award – Olwyn Jones.
- Sportsperson of the Year (21 and Over) – Paul Brady.
- Junior Sportsperson of the Year (20 and Under) – Alice Edmunds.
- Junior Sports Team of the Year Award (20 and Under) – Gunnedah Swimming Club.
- Sports Team of the Year Award – Gunnedah Touch Association.
- Ivan Towns Memorial Award – Coach of the Year- Amanda Randall.