Selfless volunteers honoured in Australia Day Awards

Published 12:31pm 19 January 2022

Selfless volunteers honoured in Australia Day Awards
Words by Jodie Powell

A Marine Rescue volunteer, a University of the Third Age champion, a man dedicated to helping the homeless and a volunteer dedicated to growing the next generation of sporting stars have been recognised at this year’s Moreton Bay Region Australia Day awards.

The 2022 awards were streamlined into two categories - Citizen of the Year Award, and the new Mayor’s Community Spirit Award.

The Citizen of the Year award pays homage to one of the region’s exemplary residents and their contribution to the community.

The Spirit Award recognises extraordinary contributions to the Moreton Bay community but was open to those who live within or outside the region, and those who aren’t Australian citizens - a first for the program.

Mayor Peter Flannery says this year’s award recipients are deserving of their honour and reflect the diversity and sense of pride that makes the region such a special place.

“Australia Day is a time to come together and celebrate how lucky we are to live in our region, and the country we call home,” Mayor Flannery says.

“Part of this is sharing our own stories, and each of this year’s award recipients have great stories to tell - all of them showing commitment to helping others, reaching out to those in need, and giving back to their community.

“It’s people like our award winners that epitomise the Aussie spirit of reaching out to others no matter the circumstances, and not giving up when times get tough.”

Citizen of the Year: Graham Gibb

Bribie Island’s Graham Gibb has been named Moreton Bay Regional Council’s 2022 Citizen of the Year.

As a senior radio officer with Volunteer Marine Rescue Bribie Island for more than a decade, Graham plays a vital role in protecting people enjoying Moreton Bay and supporting the crews on the water, as well as helping ensure the future of the organisation.

He established and continues to lead the annual Emergency Services Expo at VMR Bribie Island, co-ordinating the event, which brings local emergency services together, as well as working with local schools and community organisations, engaging with children and the wider public.

Graham is also an instrumental part of the Young Emergency Services Ambassador program, inspiring future generations to join the emergency services and Defence forces.

His nomination for Citizen of the Year says community is at the heart of everything Graham does.

“On land and at sea, his dedication and passion for serving others is a shining light, with his own needs always placed last,” the nomination says.

Graham’s passion for helping others extends to his work as a Volunteer in Policing with Bribie Island Police for the past 10 years.

In the role he acts as a conduit between police and the community, offering understanding and assistance during what can be a daunting time.

Graham says he couldn’t do the work he does without the support of others, and even though he’s officially retired, has no plans to slow down when it comes to volunteering.

Mayor’s Community Spirit Award: Ann Brooks

Selfless volunteers honoured in Australia Day Awards

Ann’s passion for education has brought joy and sparked a love of learning among thousands of others across the Moreton Bay region.

The Bribie Island resident’s dedication and enthusiasm during her 12 years of service as President of the Bribie Island University of the Third Age (U3A) led to membership growing from 460 senior citizens when she started in 2004, and almost tripling by the time she passed on the torch in 2016.

Ann has also served as Vice President of Bribie U3A and is now the Patron.

More than 2000 people from across Bribie and surrounding areas are part of the social and educational club for seniors, with a wide range of classes in many subjects run by volunteer tutors to help with mental and physical wellbeing.

Ann also helped open highly successful branches of U3A at Beachmere and Caboolture, and manages the Masters and Apprentices annual art and drama exhibition held at the Bribie Island Community Art Centre (BICAS).

The exhibition gives more than 100 local artists the opportunity to showcase their work.

Mayor’s Community Spirit Award: Len McCandless

Selfless volunteers honoured in Australia Day Awards

Len McCandless’s experiences of being homeless have provided him with the motivation to support others in the same situation.

The Lawnton man credits the support of Rosies – Friends on the Street with turning his life around and now he’s dedicated to returning the favour.

Having been homeless from a young age, it was the help of support services such as Rosies that brought safety and stability to his life.

Starting out as a patron volunteering with Rosies in 2017, Len became a team leader and is now a Branch Co-ordinator.

Len works with many other services to connect with at-risk youth, and is active in his local community, speaking to a range of organisations to put the spotlight on what those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are going through.

He not only makes a difference in others’ lives through volunteering, but also uses his big heart in his job as a disability support worker at Skylark House.

Mayor’s Community Spirit Award: Malcolm “Mick” Klein

Selfless volunteers honoured in Australia Day Awards

Mick Klein’s love of sport has inspired him to ensure others in his community have access to everything they need to help achieve their dreams.

Through hard work and dedication, the Morayfield man established Caboolture Sports Club in 1994, funding its construction by working with venture capitalists and six local sporting groups across softball, touch football, cricket, dog obedience, soccer and rugby union.

Under Mick’s leadership, they united to form an umbrella group to help support their different fields and create a place for them to meet and socialise.

Mick served as the club’s first President and helped revive Caboolture Cricket Club when it was threatened with closure in the 1980s.

Thanks to Mick’s passion to help the six foundation clubs reach their goals, each now receives funding from Caboolture Sports Club, providing them with some of the best sporting facilities in Australia.

The club delivers more $1.9 million in cash and in-kind support to the community each year, including more than 300 local sporting clubs, community groups and individual athletes.

Mick’s dedication and generosity is helping grow the next generation of sports stars, which is more important than ever as Moreton Bay prepares to become a major hub for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Read more local news here.


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