National Celebration Day Awards honour exceptional citizens of the Nambucca Valley

Citizens of the Year Rachel Burns and Sheralee Hardaker, last year’s Citizen of the Year Dave Banks, Australia Day Ambassador Rob Caslick and Member for Oxley Michael Kemp.

THE Nambucca Valley honoured a host of valued citizens on the evening of Thursday 25 January when the National Celebration Day Awards were held at Bowraville Central School.

A moving citizenship ceremony was also conducted, during which the district’s newest Aussies were formally recognised as Australian citizens.

Nambucca Valley CouncilAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

The newly appointed CEO of Nambucca Valley Council, Mr Bede Spannagle, was the Master of Ceremonies and ensured the evening ran smoothly.

The opening formalities saw a Welcome to Country by Miss Tracey Singleton, a stirring National Anthem led by Barry Noble and the Nambucca District Band, and a prayer by Pastor Sydney Coetzee.

Nambucca Valley Mayor Rhonda Hoban OAM welcomed attendees before addresses from Member for Oxley Michael Kemp and the Australia Day Ambassador to the Nambucca Valley, Mr Rob Caslick.

The Sydney-based Mr Caslick enthralled the gathering, speaking about the founding of Two Good Co, an enterprise that, through the creation of high quality food and products, now supports, empowers and employs women with lived experience of homelessness, domestic violence and complex trauma.

This year the National Celebration Day Committee found it impossible to identify just one winner of the Nambucca Valley Citizen of the Year award, so three winners were named instead.

Sheralee Hardaker, Rachel Burns and Peter Lawry were all recognised as Citizen of the Year and are equal winners in that category.

While Rachel and Sheralee were in Bowraville to receive their awards, Peter Lawry was kept away by illness.

Rachel Burns earned the prestigious honour through her role as convener of the Nambucca District Historical Society’s Nambucca Heads Railway Station Centenary Committee, authoring the Nambucca Heads Station Centenary Book, excellence as a Museum Researcher for eight years, nine years as a volunteer presenter at Radio Nambucca 2NVR and many more community-minded volunteer roles.

Sheralee Hardaker was recognised as a tireless worker for individuals facing challenges within our community.

Her work in support of those affected by the bushfires of 2019 was exemplary and her continuing work in actively contributing to women’s refuges and supporting the homeless is tireless.

Sheralee is also a grief counselor and brings a unique depth of understanding to the role, having personally navigated experiences of death, violence and ill health.

“I always seek to help people out of the dark place they may be in and look forward positively by turning their scars into stars,” Sheralee Hardaker told News Of The Area.

Peter Lawry was awarded Citizen of the Year due to many years of dedication to the broader Nambucca Valley community in various capacities, dedicating considerable time to the Nambucca Cricket Club, Little Athletics, soccer, squash, and serving as the coach and manager of several cricket teams as well as the the inaugural chairman of the Nambucca Heads High School Council.

Peter joined three Council committees as a community representative, assuming the role of Chairman of the Audit Risk Improvement Committee and contributed as a member of the Bushfire and Disaster Relief Committee.

He continues to work actively toward the betterment of the community and is an active and esteemed Rotarian of 25 years.

Other award recipients on the evening were:

Senior Citizen of the Year – Clive Watson

Young Citizen of the year – Lily Kelsey

Services to the Community as an Organisation – The Nambucca District Historical Society Committee for the Nambucca Railway Centenary

Services to the Community by an Individual – Sheralee Hardaker, Neil Gerard, Simon Dent, Hal Usher and Felicity O’Neil

Environmental Award – Elizabeth Ganly

Good Neighbour Awards – Brent Liddell and Doug Smith

Junior Sports Person Award Female – India Walker

Junior Sports Person Award Male – Ethan Blockey

Senior Sports Person Award – Christopher Power

Junior Sports Team – Nambucca Strikers U/14 Girls Soccer Team (Red)

Special Award for Academic Achievement – The Tournament of the Minds Team

Frank Partridge VC Memorial Scholarship – Claire Strandlund.


Leave a Reply