Armidale's Nicki Scholes - Robertson has been named as the city's Citizen of the Year, while Noreen Williams and Graham Williamson tied for Guyra's top award at this year's Australia Day ceremonies.
At an invitation-only award ceremony at the Armidale City Bowling Club, Armidale Regional Council Mayor Ian Tiley was joined by this year's local Australia Day Ambassador, Steve Widders and University of New England vice-chancellor Professor Brigid Heywood to present the awards.
Mr Widders is a local Indigenous icon and is a passionate advocate for those living with a disability, youth and children, refugees, and Indigenous Australians.
Armidale's Citizen of the Year has turned adversity into a passionate pursuit. After receiving a kidney transplant in 2020, Ms Scholes - Robertson has been a vocal advocate for those suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease.
In 2020, she stepped up her dedication to the cause, launching the Rural Kidney Association to make a difference for those suffering from the illness in rural and regional areas.
In addition to this, Ms Scholes -Robertson has established support groups for patients and families of those living with Chronic Kidney Disease in Armidale and has raised thousands of dollars for the Armidale Renal Unit.
Armidale's Senior Citizen of the Year is Diane Ruth Cherry - Ms Cherry has played a central role in the Armidale Senior Citizens Association and the Armidale University of the Third Age, and has dedicated many years to both organisations.
Armidale's Environmental Citizen of the Year is Dr Tanya Howard - Dr Howard has worked tirelessly to raise public awareness of natural resource management, environmental sustainability and climate change. She is a passionate advocate for action on climate change and is convenor of Sustainable Living Armidale and Climate Action Armidale.
Mark Bullen was recognised for his contribution to Sports and Recreation. Mr Bullen volunteers his time to coach local junior soccer teams and young cyclists. He also volunteers for annual charity ride Tour De Rocks and is a life member of the Armidale Cycling Club.
The Arts and Culture Award went to Dr Alana Blackburn. Dr Blackburn works within the Music Department at the University of New England and is a Board Member of NECOM.
Dr Blackburn has been a driving force behind getting teachers from the New England Conservatorium of Music to provide practical tuition to UNE students in 2020. She also assists with the annual Armidale Choral Weekend and the UNE Chamber Ensemble Programme.
Ian Garske received the Community Service Award. Mr Garske has run the Rotary Book Fair fundraiser for the past 20 years and has been a huge contributor to Rotary Central.
Earlier in the day, the ARC Australia Day event team had been to Guyra to present awards.
Guyra's Citizens of the Year, Noreen Williams and Graham Williamson, are also both stand - out members of their local community.
Ms Williams has spent the past 40 years volunteering and assisting community organisations such as Meals on Wheels, the Group 19 and Northern Tablelands Rugby League, Guyra's Country Women's Association, and the Guyra Probus Club. She has also spent decades lending a hand to community events such as the Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival and the Guyra Show.
While this dedication to the community is tough to beat, Mr Williamson has also dedicated years of his life to the Guyra community, which is why two nominees were awarded the top prize this year.
Mr Williamson has completed 45 years of service with the Guyra Fire and Rescue Brigade, with 38 of those years spent as Captain.
This dedication to his community is no small feat, especially when paired with his long list of volunteering and committee roles. He has served as a Committee Member of the Guyra Show Society, the Kolora Aged Care Hostel, and Guyra's Voluntary Rescue Association.
He was also a renowned local business owner for 35 years.
Guyra's Young Citizen of the Year is Joseph Stanley. Mr Stanley has been a part of the Student Representative Council at Guyra Central School for the past four years and was recently announced as Vice-Captain for 2021.
He was also recently selected for the National youth Science Forum and was selected into the UNSW Spring Gateway Program. In addition to his academic achievements, Mr Stanley has volunteered at several local events.
The Community Service Award went to the Guyra Volunteer Rescue Association. The group assists the community when accidents and natural disasters occur. Examples of the club's contribution to the local community include providing bushfire relief to Tenterfield in last year's bushfires, distributing food and water to those affected by the drought, and providing a free pop-up laundry for rural residents in the drought.
The Guyra Community Event of the Year was deemed the Beauty, Bubbles and Bliss event organised by Michelle Murray for rural ladies who have had a tough year dealing with bushfires and drought.
The Guyra Sportsperson of the Year is Meg Simpson - Meg has been playing golf twice a week for over 40 years and is a valuable mentor to young golfers in the Guyra community.
The Guyra Cricket Club was recognised for its Contribution to Sports and Recreation.
The club has facilitated significant growth over the past four years, introducing several new sides. This has significantly grown and improved the quality of the sport within the region.
The winners were selected from a large pool of nominees in both Armidale ( David White - Citizen of the Year, Senior Citizen of the Year, Community Service Award; Dr Alana Blackburn - Citizen of the Year; Lorie McLennan - Senior Citizen of the Year; Tony Sorensen - Senior Citizen of the Year; Kathy Clare - Community Service Award; Louise Moffat - Community Service Award; Gaylia Bigg - Community Service Award; Wendy Peterson - Contribution to Sports and Recreation) and Guyra (Pat Darby - Citizen of the Year; Hans Hietbrink - Citizen of the Year; Andrew Pearson - Young Citizen of the Year; Helen Turnham - APRA Op Shop - Community Service Award for Group or Club; Peter Hansen - Guyra Heritage Rail Group - Community Service Award for Group or Club; Guyra Lady Golders - Contribution to Sports and Recreation)
In addition to the awards, Armidale Regional Council was pleased to present 28 people with Australian Citizenship.