Nev and Judy Lawrence were this year's runners-up for the Blackbutt Local Achiever Award; winner Margaret Carrick was unable to attend the Awards ceremony

January 26, 2018

The South Burnett’s local achiever nominees were fewer in number than has been the case in recent years, but no less deserving.

The Local Achiever Awards recognise individuals, of any age, who have made an outstanding achievement in their local community.

In some cases where only one individual was nominated for a town or area, if the judges agreed that their contribution was outstanding the award was made to the person nominated.

Awards were presented for Blackbutt, Nanango, Kingaroy, Kumbia, Wooroolin, Wondai/Tingoora, Hivesville/Proston and Murgon.

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Local Achiever Award – Blackbutt

The nominees were:

  • Judy and Nev Lawrence – “Team Lawrence” worked extremely hard to make the reopening of the Blackbutt Hall the success that it was. Over the past 8 years they have both been extensively involved in the Blackbutt and Benarkin communities, sharing their love of people through supporting the activities of the Blackbutt Singers, writing grants and helping with fundraisers. Judy is also secretary of the Blackbutt Community District Organisation and involved in the Avocado Festival and QCWA, while Nev serves as the treasurer of the Blackbutt Community District Organisation and was jointly responsible for the catering at the hall’s re-opening. Nev’s vision of a park beside the Rail Trail was inspired by a visit to Longreach’s Hall of Fame and seeing their walking trail. Now he and a team of other locals who call themselves the Garden Friends are busy bringing it to fruition.
  • Margaret Carrick – Winner – Margaret has been part of the Blackbutt community her entire life, actively involving herself in several community organisations, and has spread her support across the South Burnett to towns such as Proston as well. Fort the past 10 years, Margaret has been an active member and secretary of the Taromeo Rural Fire Brigade, feeding the firefighters during bushfires and catering for other local Rural Fire Brigades when they all help each other out. Her volunteering is 24/7, day or night – or all day and night if necessary – to keep the firefighters fed and watered. Margaret also ran the canteen at the last year’s Blackbutt Avocado Festival and assisted with lawn bowls for her club, and it’s estimated that she volunteered more than 3000 hours to keep her community safe and fed.

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Cr Ros Heit with Nanango Local Achiever Award winners Ray and Lola McNamara and Cr Gavin Jones

Local Achiever Award – Nanango

The nominees were:

  • Ray and Lola McNamara – Winner – Ray and Lola McNamara have practiced a lifelong philosophy of service to others. Together or individually, they are highly valued by the Nanango community. Their hallmark characteristics of compassion, generosity and practicality see them helping the sick and elderly with appointments, deliveries and property maintenance. Lola, a former hairdresser, regularly whips out her snippers for those who might be in hospital or housebound due to ill health and in need of a haircut. And while picking up rubbish might help keep Ray fit, it is his deep pride in his community that sees him out every week, walking along the sides of the highways leading into and out of Nanango to keep them tidy. Ray and Lola are also active in several community organisations such as their respective church communities, and have continued their service to several organisations like school P&Cs and sporting clubs long after their own family finished. Lola is the well-loved Pastoral Carer and volunteer at Karinya Aged Care, and has contributed enormously to the success of the Nanango Soccer Club over many years, fulfilling secretarial and treasurer duties, developing rosters and organising volunteers, managing inter-town competitions or senior and junior level competitions, representing the club at regional meetings, maintaining the canteen, organising uniforms, sponsor management and conflict management, being awarded a life membership by the club in 2013. Ray and Lola have also baked food for wakes, mowed and maintained buildings and sporting fields, helped people look after themselves in times of need, organised walking and marathon running events, volunteered on market days, delivered Endeavour products to cafés in Toowoomba every couple of weeks, served at the South Burnett Pantry in Kingaroy. Ray and Lola are true local heroes whose work is largely unseen and unsung.

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Local Achiever Award – Kumbia

  • Adam Entwistle – Winner – More than the Kumbia police officer, Adam has been instrumental in several safety initiatives, especially the school crossing zone, the bus turnaround and the Kumbia Rural Watch. He is highly valued as a true community police officer and is deeply involved in caring for the community that has become his home. One of his recent projects was to help improve the security of rural properties for farmers and rural landowner’s right across the South Burnett where they could receive a free sign that informs would be trespassers that the law is against them if they are found wandering on properties for no good reason. Turning the tables on an intruder to justify their presence and giving landowners the backing provided under common law, this project has been a welcome and much appreciated initiative driven by Adam. He is also adept at screwing on theft proof registration plates for community members and delivering many other community safety initiatives.

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Cr Gavin Jones with Kingaroy Local Achiever runner-up Thomas Hardy, winner Susan Dowideit-Reiger and Cr Ros Heit

Local Achiever Award – Kingaroy

The nominees were:

  • Susan Dowideit-Reiger – Winner – As part of her professional teaching role at Kingaroy State High School, Susan founded the dance department in 2009, creating additional opportunities for more South Burnett young people to access dance. Some of Sue’s more wonderful achievements include the mentoring role she provided for Riley Slatter, who travelled to England in 2017 to participate in the workshops with the King’s Singers. Susan is a member of Vocal and Chamber Groups, and was the artistic director for Cats and Musical Director for Jesus Christ Superstar, both productions put on by the South Burnett Musical Comedy Society. Susan will direct the forthcoming production of Les Miserables that the South Burnett Musical Comedy Society will bring to Kingaroy in May this year. She will be directing a revolutionary production that features a concert version focusing on the show’s music. In addition, Susan runs various dance troupes in the High School and performs at numerous events such as the annual Australia Day Awards. She is regarded with special affection by her many dance Dance Krew students who attend every Wednesday after school. This initiative was started by Susan over five years ago and is a way that she can give back to the community by creating an opportunity for young people to learn to love themselves the way they are, gain skills in listening, asking questions and following instructions.

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Steve Copas won Wooroolin's 2018 Local Achiever Award

Local Achiever Award – Wooroolin

  • Steve Copas – Winner – Steve is heavily involved in many aspects of his community, and in between raising his eight children he volunteers his talents to the fire brigade, soccer and futsal clubs and his employment as a local courier driver with a record for ahead of schedule deliveries. He has been a Wooroolin firefighter for 20 years and in 2017 received medals from the Queensland Fire Department to honour his years of service. He has served on the executive of the soccer committee as vice president, played and coached junior soccer, and more recently has taken on the coaching of the girl’s soccer team where he took up a personal challenge to convert the girls’ run of losses into wins. Steve is now very proud that his team is no longer at the bottom of the ladder, but is now consistently second or third from the top. Steve is someone the community calls on for a hand, and he has gladly helped out many during the past 28 years he’s lived in Wooroolin. And he is held in such high regard by the community that he was nominated and has been chosen to be a baton relay runner for the Commonwealth Games.

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Vicki Parry and Winston Burrows were this year's Wondai/Tingoora Local Achievers

Local Achiever Award – Wondai / Tingoora

The nominees were:

  • Vicki Parry – Vicki Parry is a force to be reckoned with in Wondai. Her dedication, passion and sacrifice for community and family is widely regarded as exceptional. She is regularly organising food, lifts and emotional support for those in need. Over the past 15 years Vicki has been supporting the Wondai Proston Junior Rugby League Club in many ways through fundraising, jack of all trades registrar, and helping support young people through their tough and good times. Her can-do attitude extends to her role as the President of the Wondai State School P&C Association, where her fundraising prowess ensures children’s learning and well-being needs are met.

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Hivesville/Proston Local Achiever Spike Butler and his horses and buggies are a common sight in northern parts of the region

Local Achiever Award – Hivesville/Proston

  • Spike Butler – Winner – Spike is a regular contributor to community organisations and events. Each week Spike and his horses turn up at the Murgon’s Men’s Shed to help members learn skills that complement the restoration of sulkies, buckboards and carts they’re undertaking. Spike is also a regular fixture at the Hivesville Christmas Carnival where he drives Santa to and from the event each year. He can also be found offering rides at the Tableland Markets, leading the riders at Kilkivan Horse Ride, supporting the Swickers family carnival, the Boondooma Country Music cancer fundraiser, escorting the Murgon Show’s showgirls, leading the parade at Wondai Show’s Centenary and being part of Goomeri Pumpkin festival parade.

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Cr Ros Heit, Murgon Local Achiever Scott Prendergast and Cr Gavin Jones with (at front) Jim Kingston and Heather Purser

Local Achiever Award – Murgon

The nominees were:

  • Jim Kingston – Jim was born in Kingaroy but adopted Murgon as his home over 60 years ago. After being called up for compulsory national service in 1954, he has been serving his beloved community and fellow service men and women since 1994 in various capacities with the National Servicemen’s Association, Murgon RSL Sub-Branch and Murgon Services Memorial Club. His selfless service has seen him awarded the National Service Medal and the Australian Defence Medal. His involvement has seen the Homes Committee, a sub committee of the Murgon RSL Sub Branch construct four villas. He has served for many years as President, Vice President, Treasurer and has represented the South Burnett at state and national levels for the Australian National Servicemen’s Association and RSL of Australia. It seems only yesterday that the delegation to Holland at the invitation of the Mayor of Dodewaard in Holland occurred, where Jim ably represented Murgon as the President of the Murgon RSL Sub Branch. Jim’s community service also extends to Murgon Apex, the Murgon Football Supporters Club, the Tiernan Social Cricket Club, the Murgon Show Society, the Murgon Bowls Club, the Buffalo Club and many other fundraisers, events and activities over the years. Not just good with the snippers for a haircut, it his service to the Barber Shop Quartet, a group of four singers who share their love of singing and people across aged care facilities in Murgon area that brings ongoing joy to so many people each month. They had an added bonus of singing at the opening of the South Burnett Rail Trail in Murgon in October last year. Jim’s life of dedication, service, devotion to family and others stands him out from most because he is so well accepted, respected and admired.
  • Elva Bishop – Elva Bishop has served her community as a tower of energy and enthusiasm over the years, volunteering wherever help was needed at school, meals on wheels and more. She has served for many years on the Cloyna Hall committee as well as been the backbone of the Uniting Church Hall Committee, organising special events, fundraisers, hosting dignitaries, catering, cleaning and more. Her commitment to organising the annual bus trip to the Wesley Hospital for women to have mammograms has seen through her influence, many life long friendships formed and no doubt lives saved.
  • Scott Prendergast – Winner – Scott has been an active member of the Murgon community over the past 20 years and throughout that time has regularly gone over and above his role as a police officer. He received a meritorious award for service to the community from the Queensland Police Service and his active leadership in many community organisations makes Murgon and the South Burnett a much better place to live and love. His service to local organisations include the Murgon Sports Association; the Murgon Junior Rugby League, where he has managed U12 teams for the past two years, helped with organising the Gavin Cooper Dinner and the highly valued and nationally awarded Domestic Violence Awareness Round held in Murgon during May 2017; as Chair of the South Burnett Junior Rugby League Judiciary for the past two years; as Manager of the Under 43kg carnival team for the past two years; as carnival coordinator for the Southern Qld U35kg carnival to be held in Kingaroy in 2018. Scott is also the driving force behind many police charity balls raising money for causes such as air conditioning for Castra, Murgon Hospital and Careflight, and has been President of the St Joseph’s School P&F for the past seven years.
  • Heather Purser – Heather has been guiding girls for over 50 years, receiving a number of special awards from the Girl Guide Association along the way. During 2017, she received two awards – a 50 years Long Service Award and the Bar to the Wattle Award, which is one of the highest awards in Australia for Girl Guides. She has also received a Quota Woman of the Year award and received a Rotary Paul Harris Award as well.

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