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Byron Shire
June 21, 2021

Byron Shire’s community awards – January 25

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Zenith Virago at the 2015 V-Day celebrations on Byron’s Main Beach. Photo Tree Faerie.

Though they are still called the ‘Australia Day’ Awards, Byron Shire Council held their annual community awards last night, January 25.

Zenith Virago was named the 2021 Byron Shire Citizen of the Year at the awards ceremony held in Byron Bay.

Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, made the award announcements at the at the Cavanbah Centre.

Five awards were given, including Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Creative Artist of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year and Senior Citizen of the Year.

Mayor Richardson said that Ms Virago has had a profound impact on our community in so many ways. ‘It really is an enormous honour to present her with the Citizen of the Year award,’ he said

Zenith is a pioneer and leader in her approach to dying; to helping people prepare for death and guiding them, and their families, through the end of life process which is frightening, uncertain and sad,’ he said.

She is wise, compassionate, spiritual and honest and has been a great source of comfort to many people over the years she has been doing this important work.

Cr Richardson said Zenith founded the Natural Death Care Centre where she offers her services to the community either free, or for significantly reduced rates. For 15 years she has facilitated the annual Day of the Dead ceremony to honour all the much-loved people in our community who have died.

He also said that Zenith has raised community awareness on issues of gender equality and violence against women and her annual V-Day event and Vagina Conversations production have raised more than $40,000 for the Women’s Escape Fund which provides emergency financial support to women when it’s most required to assist them and their children to remain safe.

The 2021 Byron Shire Volunteer of the Year is Peter Mair

Peter Mair has been a member of the State Emergency Service (SES) for 49 years.

Peter, who retired from the Police Force in 2017, is the SES Tweed-Byron Zone Local Commander.

Mayor Richardson said the award is a small way for the people of the Byron Shire to say thank you to Peter who cares so deeply about his community.

Nickolla Clarke is the Byron Shire’s Creative Artist of the Year. 

‘Nickolla, a young Arakwal woman, is a role model in our community who shares her culture and stories though her art,’ said Cr Richardson.

‘She was the lead artist on the Byron Bay Railway Park art project and was key contributor to the Mullumbimby Gateway project.’

Byron Shire’s Young Citizen of the Year is Mia Thom.

Mia was accepted into the University of Sydney’s Wingara Mura 2019 Summer Program which is designed to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students get a feeling for university life and explore options for tertiary study and future careers.

Mia, who graduated from Byron Bay High School last year, has achieved recognition for her leadership within the school and community, being a recipient of the 2019 and 2020 BASE Leadership Awards and is committed to social change and advocating on human rights issues and climate change.

Byron Shire’s Senior Citizen of the Year, Pamela Wark

Former students of Mullumbimby High School will know Byron Shire’s Senior Citizen of the Year, Pamela Wark, very well.

‘Pamela has taught at Mullum High for more than 45 years and is highly regarded by colleagues and students as an inspirational, dedicated and caring educator.

‘Recognising Pamela as our Senior Citizen of the Year is a great way of celebrating her contribution not just to Mullumbimby High School, but to our whole Shire,’ said Mayor Richardson.

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