This week, we celebrated the start of a new era for 28 young Gunnedah shire students who were successful in their application to the Gunnedah Community Scholarship Fund.

The Scholarship Fund was started more than 20 years ago, when former mayor Gae Swain OAM recognised a real need to make tertiary education more accessible for our young people, and to set a path for qualified people to return home to our shire, bringing with them their valuable skills.

The Gunnedah Community Scholarship Fund is a partnership between Gunnedah Shire Council and the community. Without the generosity of local businesses and organisations, these scholarships would not be possible. Year after year, local businesses, including Whitehaven Coal and Santos and many others, invest financially in the future of our youth. Thank you.

It was wonderful to see some of the young people – some have already set off for their education adventure – at the presentation this week. It’s an exciting time in their lives and we wish all of them all the best.

We have also just recognised some of our outstanding citizens at a very successful Gunnedah Australia Day Awards Dinner.

There was true Australian spirit in the Gunnedah Town Hall on the eve of Australia Day, with special guests, performer and Australia Day Ambassador Todd McKenney and bush poet Murray Hartin. Todd McKenney’s performance of I Still Call Australia Home will remain a historic highlight of this special day in Gunnedah shire, alongside Murray Hartin’s performance of Turbulence.

I would like to warmly congratulate the recipients of the 13 categories, including our Citizen of the Year Marie Hobson and Young Citizen of the Year Lewis Donaldson. Our community is richer for the contributions of these two people. Marie is a well-known and well-loved member of Gunnedah shire, and Lewis represents the exciting potential of our younger generation.

Well done to Marie and Lewis, and to all those who were recipients and nominees for these important awards, and thank you to the Australia Day Working Group for your work.

The awards dinner was followed by an Australia Day that started with a church service and citizenship ceremony under the gums at Anzac Park. There were many other activities across the shire, with a great turnout of people to celebrate. It was truly a great Australia Day in Gunnedah.

It’s also nice to see a great new facility for our littlest community members at Kitchener Park.

Bright new play equipment has been installed with accessible ramps, an inclusive swing set, new connecting pathways to the amenities block, a barbecue and a shaded seating area.

The project was jointly funded by Council and the NSW government through the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Everyone Can Play Grant Program.

Council will be looking to install even more shade in this area in the next financial year if the funds become available.

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