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Byron Shire
March 26, 2023

Tweed Council celebrates citizens new and old

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Joan Henderson of Urliup is the Tweed Shire’s Citizen of the Year for her work with the Uki Refugee Project. Photo supplied.

Yesterday Tweed Shire Council celebrated members of the community, old and new, with an award ceremony. The Citizen of the Year award went to refugee advocate Joan Henderson of Urliup.

The Mayor of Tweed Shire, Chris Cherry, presented the award to Joan at an event at Murwillumbah.

Joan is an active member and co-convenor of the Uki Refugee Project, a community group offering support and advocating on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

Joan and the Uki Refugee Project members lobby politicians for policy change and encourage wider community awareness through fundraising events, as well as organising friendship visits for refugees to the Tweed.

Cr Cherry said following the fall of Kabul into the hands of the Taliban in 2021, Joan took upon herself the almost impossible task of bringing to safety some of the people at the highest risk of arrest and death. ‘She is relentless in her work of preparing visa applications, keeping communications open day and night with people who are hiding in the mountains.

A quiet achiever

‘Joan is a quiet achiever who represents the best of our compassionate and diverse Tweed community. She is a very worthy winner of the title of Tweed Citizen of the Year.’

Council’s General Manager Troy Green was the MC for the awards which saw recipients honoured in five other categories, including: Arts and Culture; Community Event of the Year; Sporting Achievement (Individual and Group); Young Achiever of the Year, and; Volunteer of the Year (Individual and Group).

Each of the award recipients were featured in a short video which will be added to Council’s website and YouTube page for viewing.

Joining the presentation was Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot, State Member for Tweed Geoff Provest, a representative for State Member for Tweed Janelle Saffin, Harry Gregg, Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry, Deputy Mayor Meredith Dennis and Councillors Reece Byrnes, James Owen and Warren Polglase.

The 2021 Tweed Shire Volunteer of the Year – Individual, Grant ‘Jack’ Frost, also joined in the ceremony after he was announced this year’s Australia Day Ambassador for the Tweed.

Citizenship Ceremony

The awards ceremony was followed by a Citizenship Ceremony. Hosted by Mayor Chris Cherry, the ceremony saw 35 residents from 17 countries across all continents of the globe become the Tweed’s newest Australians.

Arts and Culture

Winners of this year’s Tweed Shire Australia Day Awards: Clockwise from top left: Lily O’Sullivan, Xane Bowen, Chloe Covell, Alex Dale, Cudgen Rural Fire Brigade, Kinship Festival, Tweed Dragons Inc, Allira Cornell and Joan Henderson (centre). Photo supplied.

The 2022 Arts and Culture Award went to Allira Cornell. Allira has a passion for bringing arts and culture to the Tweed, providing a venue for a diverse range of films, live performance and theatre.

Her work restoring the much-loved Regent Cinema has brought an important cultural icon of the Tweed back to life. Allira is also a great supporter of the community.

On many occasions, she has provided the venue at discounted rates and even for free for non-for-profit groups and charities. T

here was also an Honourable Mention awarded in this category which went to Murwillumbah Arts Trail.

Community Event of the Year

The 2022 Community Event of the Year went to the Kinship Festival. The festival is a celebration of Aboriginal art, dance, community and culture for the whole community to enjoy.

The committee is dedicated to realising the vision and striving towards communicating to the community the meaning of Kinship and the Aboriginal culture that encapsulates culture, belonging, responsibility, participation and connection to land, and people.

The event provides an opportunity for people from all walks of life to see and appreciate local Indigenous culture that’s alive and thriving.

There was an Honourable Mention awarded in this category which went to Tyalgum Music Festival.

Joint winners for sport

There were joint winners in the 2022 Sporting Achievement of the Year – Individual award. Xane Bowen is a 16-year-old triathlete who last year placed second at the National All Schools Triathlon and is the NSW Champion.

In 2021 he won the title of Youth Champion of Australia.

He began his journey as a young junior member of the Tweed Valley Triathletes. Xane is dedicated to his training, even after he and his mother had to seek temporary accommodation for months when their family home was severely impacted by the 2022 flood.

Chloe Covell is an impressive young street skateboarder who is well on her way to qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics, after being placed 7th overall while representing Australia at the qualifying event in Rome.

In 2022, she competed at the open women’s level at XGames Japan, where she received a bronze medal, and at XGames USA, scoring a silver medal. These medals make Chloe the youngest XGames athlete to achieve 2 medals before the age of 13.

Sporting Achievement of the Year – Group

The 2022 Sporting Achievement of the Year – Group went to Tweed Dragons Inc. The Tweed Dragons provide opportunities for people aged 12 to 70+ to be included in the wonderful community activity of dragon boating.

Having success at state, national and world titles is icing on the cake for this community-minded group. After 2 years of pandemic-affected championships, their 2022 results speak for themselves – 3 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze placings at the State titles and one gold and 5 silver medals at the National titles.

If they’re not on the water competing, they’re out celebrating life – socialising, volunteering or supporting charities and local communities.

Young Achiever in Community Service

The 2022 Young Achiever in Community Service went to Lily O’Sullivan.

Eighteen-year-old Lily is an outstanding young athlete who spent many years volunteering with Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club and now works protecting lives as a lifeguard on the Gold Coast.

At the Youth World Life Saving Championships in Italy, she won 7 out of a possible 7 surf events, broke a world record in the 25m Manikin relay with her team, as well as scoring a bronze in another event.

Apart from her sporting achievements, Lily spends time giving back to her community through volunteer lifesaving, training nippers and working with children through the NDIS. She assisted in ferrying to safety any affected by last year’s flood and volunteering at the evacuation centre at Kingscliff TAFE.

Volunteer of the Year

The 2022 Volunteer of the Year – Individual went to Alex Dale. Alex is one of the unsung heroes of the Tweed.

He has worked tirelessly for decades for environmental causes, planting trees for groups such as Fingal Dune Care and Friends of Cudgen Nature Reserve. He has also given 100s of hours to Team Koala, organising fun days for families at Pottsville and setting up for markets.

Alex’s tireless dedication, his ability to encourage and work with others and his vision for the Tweed are remarkable.

Volunteer Group

The 2022 Volunteer of the Year – Group went to Cudgen Rural Fire Brigade.

The brigade is a diverse group of volunteers who all share the same passion and commitment for volunteering in their local community, spending many thousands of unpaid hours assisting others.

The respected brigade responds to more than 100 incidents a year, including house and bush fires, vehicle accidents and automatic fire alarms.

The Cudgen Rural Fire Brigade played a very big role in last year’s floods, spending more than two weeks sandbagging, rescuing residents and in the clean-up in Chinderah, Tumbulgum and Condong.

Families and children also thank them for their popular Santa Runs along the Tweed Coast and out to Tumbulgum.

There was an Honourable Mention awarded in this category to Volunteers Agape Outreach.

Singer Cody Leenders leads the audience in the national anthem at the Tweed Shire Australia Day Awards ceremony in Murwillumbah. Photo supplied.

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