Grace McDonald from Boonah, Mark Ayers from Beechmont and Frank White from Tamborine Mountain are the Scenic Rim’s Australia Day Citizens of the Year.
They were joined on stage at the awards ceremony at The Centre in Beaudesert on Sunday by the winners of three more special awards:
• Lesley Klan from Rathdowney who won the Mayor’s Award;
• Representatives from the Kooralbyn Valley Community Development Association which won a Special Commendation for Community Involvement; and
• Representatives from the Emergency Services which won the Scenic Rim Region Award.
A feature of the ceremony was the awards which honoured those involved in fighting the recent bushfires and those who supported them.
“This year’s Australia Day Awards were presented in the context of what has been a challenging time for many in the region with drought and bushfire,” Mayor Greg Christensen said.
“From my first-hand involvement with the bushfires I am also very aware of the personal impact that these have had on many people throughout the Scenic Rim.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the tremendously brave men and women involved in these firefighting efforts.
“They faced the most challenging of conditions and fought tirelessly to save lives and property across our region.
“It’s evident our emergency services personnel put life and limb on the line to help protect local communities.
“It was not just those on the fire lines - logistics, planning, communication and our SES played a strong support role.”
Cr Christensen noted the high calibre of all the award nominees.
“Those of you who were nominated should be proud of the contribution you have made to your community.”
The citations for the award winners are as follows:
• Grace McDonald - Citizen of the Year (16-30 yrs)
Grace was one of the Boonah High School’s Captains last year and was nominated for inspiring other students to step up and become involved in their school and local community.
She was involved in school fundraising activities and was editor of the school magazine and an Interact member.
Her efforts with Interact and other fundraising initiatives resulted in the High School delivering 52 shoe boxes to Rotary for Timor Leste.
Grace's nomination recognised her mature, efficient, organised and friendly manner that will stand her in good stead in her tertiary nursing studies.
• Mark Ayers - Citizen of the Year (31-65 yrs)
As First Officer of the Beechmont Rural Fire Brigade, Mark led his team to protect the Binna Burra/Beechmont community for 18 days in early September 2019.
Mark was recognised for his bravery and clarity of purpose during the unprecedented September Sarabah bushfires, when fire fronts were 30 to 40 metres high and moving at speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour in unpredictable directions.
Mark's nomination called for recognition for the service he and his team provided in ensuring that no residents or volunteer firefighters lost their lives during the dangerous bushfires.
• Frank White - Citizen of the Year (65+ yrs)
Frank White was nominated for his outstanding contribution to the Tamborine Mountain community, and throughout the Scenic Rim region, through his work as a volunteer minister and local SES member.
He also serves as Padre to the Tamborine Mountain RSL sub-Branch, of which he is a committee member, and is regarded by colleagues as an outstanding role model to the sub-branch and local community.
For the past eight years, Frank has supported the residents of the Roslyn Lodge Aged Care Facility on Tamborine Mountain, which faced closure two years ago. While no longer a paid pastoral care worker, he has continued to volunteer his services.
A former Presbyterian minister, Frank also volunteers as a religious education teacher at Tamborine Mountain and St Bernard State Schools.
• Lesley Klan - Mayor's Award
Like many of the Scenic Rim's community champions, Lesley Klan has a strong sense of community and passion for helping others.
The Rathdowney Rural Fire Brigade, the Anglican and Catholic churches at Rathdowney, and the Rathdowney Swimming Club are among the 18 local not-for-profit groups which have benefited from her fundraising activities from her community market stall.
Lesley has been a member of the Rathdowney Area Development and Historical Association since the 1990s, helping with the historical museum, conservation of museum objects and compilation of local history.
She volunteers at the Rathdowney Visitor Information Centre, is a member of the Barney View Community Church and has supported Beaucare's community work at Rathdowney.
• Kooralbyn Valley Community Development Association - Special Commendation for Community Involvement
The Arts Ablaze Regional Arts Conference and Festival, held at the Ramada Kooralbyn Valley Resort in October 2019, showcased Kooralbyn, with artists, performers and attendees traveling from across Queensland, interstate and overseas. The Kooralbyn Valley Community Development Association worked tirelessly in the months leading up to the event with local volunteers hosting a number of working bees in readiness for guests of the event to camp on the grounds.
They also managed the camping area during the event, with volunteers working together to look after bookings, camping check-ins, the camp kitchen, and camper enquiries. This was a huge effort for the local volunteers and Scenic Rim Regional Council is grateful for their show of civic pride and for being an integral part of this wonderful event within the region.
• Emergency Services personnel - Scenic Rim Region Award
The award acknowledges the commitment and dedication and the service and sacrifice of fire and emergency service volunteers during the September to December 2019 bushfires across the Scenic Rim.
The region owes a huge debt of gratitude to the tremendously brave men and women involved in the firefighting efforts. They faced the most challenging of conditions and fought tirelessly to save lives and property across the region.
The award also recognises the contribution of those behind the fire lines - those in logistics, planning and communication roles - and members of the State Emergency Service who played a strong support role.