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Byron Shire
July 6, 2022

Community leaders recognised in Australia Day awards

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The mayor Simon Richardson with Byron Shire Citizen of The Year Barbara Upson-Shaw and the Wright family, two members of which brought you this year’s Community Event of the Year Mullum Music Festival. Photo Jeff DawsonAustra

The 2018 Byron Shire Citizen of the Year was awarded to Barbara Upson-Shaw who was recognised for her extensive contribution to the community over many years.

Mayor Simon Richardson said Barbara’s service was truly inspirational.

‘Many people will know Barb through her tireless work for Rotary Byron Bay. Over the years Barb has become a real trailblazer for women and women’s health programs and has played a central role in organising and fundraising for the Bravehearts program for schools, the Days for Girls program and raising funds for the SHIFT program, which helps homeless women to get back on their feet,’ he said.

Eighty-seven-year-old Margaret Fisher, known for being a senior world tennis champion, was awarded Byron Shire’s Senior Citizen of the Year. She received the award not so much for her tennis, said daughter Stephanie Dale, but for ‘her inspiration to the community.’

Community heart

Also recognised for her outstanding contribution to the community was Sue Biggar, who received the Australia Day NSW VRA Emergency Services Medal. Sue has been a member of the Brunswick Valley and District Volunteer Rescue (BVDR) since 1995.

Among many other volunteer roles Sue ‘is currently our Road Captain, thus the person in charge of our rescue operations, our squad training officer and treasurer, all of which are unpaid volunteer positions,’ said Phillip Walsh, BVDR Secretary.

‘I know Sue was speechless when told of the award, which is typical of her unassuming character. Our motto is “a helping hand anywhere anytime,” that’s Sue!’

Byron Shire Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Heather McQuilty for her commitment to ‘Kids Club’ in Mullumbimby, the Anglican Op Shop and serving meals as part of the ‘Messy Church’.

Special mention for Citizen of the Year went to husband-and-wife team Gill and Barry Lomath for their ‘seemingly bottomless well of generosity’ said Mayor Richardson.

Community event

Taking out the Byron Shire Community Event of the Year award was the Mullumbimby Music Festival, who were recognised for their innovative youth mentorship and environmental programs.

Glenn Wright, director of the Mullum Music Festival, told The Echo that he was ‘really grateful to be part of it along with all the other amazing people who won awards.’

‘For the last ten years we have flown under the radar and then this year we have been mentioned in parliament, recognising that we are a world-class arts and cultural event.

‘Now this award recognises the other side, which is all the community work we do from our youth mentorships program, sustainability and waste reduction programs, to working with other venues like the Mullumbimby District Neighbourhood Centre and Mullumbimby High School to create shared outcomes by bringing both cultural events and shared revenue to the town.

‘It really validates that part of the work we do.’

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