HONOURED: Anne Thompson has been creating donation boxes on behalf of the North Coast Drought Appeal from for drought- affected farmers for many years.
HONOURED: Anne Thompson has been creating donation boxes on behalf of the North Coast Drought Appeal from for drought- affected farmers for many years.

Ballina Aus Day Award winners revealed

THE ‘Drought Relief Lady’, Anne Thompson, was awarded Citizen of the Year at today’s

Ballina Shire Australia Day Awards.

Held at the new Ballina Indoor Sports Centre (BISC), the event celebrated the achievements and contributions our unsung heroes make to the local community.

A record number of 44 nominations were acknowledged across the categories of Sports, Young Citizen, Senior Citizen, Environmental, Community Event, Arts/Cultural and Volunteer of the Year. The awards.

Mayor David Wright with special guest, netballer and broadcaster Liz Ellis, presented the awards.

The award winners are:

• Citizen of the Year: Anne Thompson.

Ms Thompson and has been collecting and distributing cattle feed, hampers, toys and Christmas gifts to farmers since 1994. It all began when she learnt that recently burnt cane tops made good cattle feed and organised weekly distribution of the tops to farmers. Every year, Ms Thompson collaborates with local businesses and service providers to send food and Christmas hampers to farmers. Last year, her team distributed over 1000 hampers to drought affected communities.

Anne’s efforts help lift the spirits of our farmers and let them know they are valued and not forgotten.

• Sports Awards: Hayley Oakes and Ben Roche.

Hayley Oakes is a multiple Australian Mountain Bike Champion. She has been riding mountain bikes since 2015, racing since 2016 and she is the current Under 17 Australian Champion across three disciplines.

Lennox Head local Ben Roche was born with cerebral palsy and started playing football at age six. He enjoyed playing, despite being left on the bench much of the time. In 2019 Ben was the Pararoos’ Vice-Captain at the World Championships in Spain.

  • Arts and Cultural Award: Sprung!! Integrated Dance Theatre

Sprung!! is a Ballina-based not-for-profit community organisation. It provides dance and theatre workshops for people with a disability. Since 2014, Sprung!! has been led by artistic director Michael Hennessy, who danced with the Sydney Dance Company. In 2017 and 2018 Sprung!! was a finalist in the Australian Dance Awards.

  • Young Citizens of the Year: Amelia Farrant and Zarah Knight

Amelia Farrant is an outstanding ambassador for Ballina Coast High School and her community. Consistently giving her best since year seven, Amelia has been a driving force behind the Ballina Junior Chamber of Commerce, Leo Club and an energetic member of the Student Representative Council. She was elected school captain of Ballina Coast High School in 2019.

Zarah Knight is an enthusiastic and caring role model, passionately serving her school, church and community. Zarah was 2019 Richmond Christian College School Captain and C3 Church Youth Group Leader. She is a founding member of a weekly bible study group where girls can chat with their peers and feel supported in a loving and caring environment. She also volunteers with the Ballina SES.

  • Senior Citizens of the Year: Barry and Janice Saxby

Raising five children and realising the need for a local athletics club, the Saxbys together with a few other local athletes reformed the Ballina Athletics Club in 1980. Since then they have inspired and encouraged generations of athletes of all abilities. After 40 years, Barry and Janice are the soul and heart of the Ballina Athletics Club as they continue to nurture and care for all Club members.

  • Volunteers of the Year: Alan and Jenny Tunks

On hearing the cystic fibrosis diagnosis of their son Glen, Alan and Jenny Tunks set out to tackle the disease head on. From their first successful fundraising lamington drive, community-minded Alan and Jenny aimed high and secured the rights to be the charity of choice at the Byron Bay Blues Festival. In 23 years, the Tunks have returned over $650,000 to the Cystic Fibrosis Australian Federation.

  • Community Event of the Year: Dragon Boat Regatta

The Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club, annual two-day Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Regatta is unique in Ballina Shire. It caters for sports clubs and community teams showcasing Ballina as a tourist destination. Dragon Boating is a fun form of physical activity with health benefits especially for breast cancer survivors.

  • Environmental Award: Malcolm Milner

Malcolm Milner has been serving the Lennox Head community for over twenty years. Landcare Lennox Head was initiated by Malcolm and Hilary Wilson in 1999. He extended his volunteering, holding multiple leadership roles with Landcare, FOLA, Heritage Committee and Residents’ Association. Malcolm continues to proactively monitor local issues; raising community awareness of environmental concerns and looking to potential solutions.

  • Local Heroes: Rural Fire Services brigades

A special recognition was given to the Alstonville/Wollongbar, Lennox Head, Meerschaum Vale, Newrybar, Wardell and Ballina brigades, after their efforts in fighting fires across NSW and interstate.

During the Australia Day ceremony, thirty new Australian citizens were welcomed from places including the United Kingdom, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Africa, Argentina, Colombia, Ireland, Italy, Bulgaria, France, New Zealand and the United States.



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