16 locals vie for Australia Day awards
A racing driver, St John Ambulance volunteer and local historian are part of a 16 person cohort who have been nominated for Maitland’s Australia Day Awards.
The city’s Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year will be announced during Australia Day activities in Maitland Park on Saturday, as part of a morning which will include a citizenship ceremony and an address from Maitland’s Australia Day Ambassador, former Masterchef contestant Kumar Pereira.
Held in Maitland Park, the day will a free barbeque breakfast, kids’ pony rides, a scavenger hunt and free scones baked over a campfire. The annual thong throwing competition and classic car display will be on again, and entry to Maitland Pool will be free from 10am to 3pm.
YOUNG CITIZEN OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Gabriella Blissett: While vice-captain of Hunter Valley Grammar School last year, Gabriella volunteered as a Pink Lady at Maitland Hospital. Her enjoyment of the violin has seen her play at the Woodford Folk Festival and Tamworth Country Music Festival for several years.
Dean Bradford: Dean has volunteered at Thornton Football Club as a referee and coach, and also assists with ground set-up on game days. Last year his efforts were recognised by Northern NSW Football as a Volunteer of the Month.
Kelci Brain: Kelci has completed over 800 volunteer hours with St John Ambulance cadets and worked in several leadership roles in that time. She is continually working to upskill herself and holds the rank of Cadet Sergeant, the highest rank a cadet can achieve.
John Leao: John gives much of his time to the Woodberry Warriors Junior Rugby League Club and the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Pastoral Team, and is also a member Newcastle and Coalfields Rugby League Referees Association. He has volunteered with several community groups, including the St Vincent de Paul Society, Newcastle Night Angels Homeless Care and White Ribbon.
Eadana Macpherson: Eadana has represented NSW RSLs on an Anzac tour of New Zealand and is also passionate about sport, serving as Maitland Swimming Club captain and officiating at Netball NSW state competitions. She now acts as a mentor for young netball umpires.
Caitlin Wood: Caitlin is rising star in sports car racing, and was the first Australian woman to compete in the Blancpain racing series. She now lives in England and is competing in the Super Trofeo series.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Bob Cotton: Bob has worked tirelessly campaigning for the maximum penalty for concealing abuse against children. He spearheaded a petition calling for an increase in penalties which amassed 13,000 signatures.
Abby Crawford: Abby has been a member of the Maitland Health Committee for more than seven years, and has been chair of the committee for the last four. She has created a communications strategy that provides health information to almost 100 community groups and schools, and has receieved the Hunter New England Health Excellence Award twice.
Belinda-Jane Davis: Last year Belinda-Jane won a Walkley Award for her coverage of the drought, spearheading campaigns to increase government assistance and fundraising, and increasing support for local farmers
Amanda Fenn: Amanda volunteers with Guys Karate School and the Make a Wish Foundation, and has fundraised to find a cure for a rare kidney disease called cystinosis.
Carolyn Gregg: Carolyn was a foundation member of the Maitland Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and is the only foundation member remaining after 50 years. She is the leader of the orchestra and has also been involved in maintaining the archives and running Christmas Carols around the city.
Christine Kidd: Christine has been the President of the Maitland RSL Womens Auxiliary for eight years, also working for the Maitland RSL Sub-Branch and Maitland Legacy to fundraise and organise events for the groups’ members. She also volunteered with Meals on Wheels for many years.
Dave Powell: For eight years Dave has gone above and beyond as a Meals on Wheels Delivery Driver at Maitland Community Care Services, mentoring new drivers when he isn’t behind the wheel himself.
Stewart Sherman: Stewart is an Afghanistan veteran and has competed as an archer in the last three Invictus Games, winning a silver and a gold in 2018. He currently works for the Australian National Archery Association and is involved with RSL Active, which reaches out to veterans to get them involved in sport.
Kevin Short: Kevin is actively involved in many community groups, including the Maitland and District Historical Society, Maitland Regional Museum, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Maitland Musical Society and is also a Lions Youth of the Year judge.
Wilma Lilley: Wilma volunteers with Maitland’s vulnerable persons, including children, people with a disability and the elderly. She does this with Lower Hunter Peer Support, Lower Hunter Temporary Care, Volunteers for Palliative Care, Benhome Auxiliary Board, Transport Carers Group and Brunch Club, and has also been involved with Lions.