Brian Flint was named Armidale Citizen of the Year at a ceremony in Central Park on Wednesday.
The announcement was made as part of Armidale Regional Council's jam-packed Australia Day Picnic in the Park program, which kicked off at 10.30am.
Federal government funding through the National Australia Day Council ensured a slick and inclusive event that perfectly illustrated the 2022 theme We're all part of the story.
Following the Welcome to Country by Hazel Green OAM and an address by deputy mayor Todd Redwood, seven new Australian citizens made the 'pledge of commitment' in front of the gathered crowd.
Narelle Campbell, Armidale's Australia Day ambassador, then spoke about her time as station leader in Antarctica and the importance of community.
Finally, it was the moment everyone was waiting for - the announcement of who was receiving our Armidale Australia Day awards.
Armidale Citizen of the Year
Mr Flint has played an integral role at Armidale PCYC since he first joined as a seven year old in 1954, committing to over 60 years supporting and running the club for disadvantaged youth, a commitment not many can say they have achieved. He volunteers at Armidale PCYC between 25 to 30 hours every week and has been club president for a decade.
His devoted life-long passion for fitness has ensured children from all backgrounds experience the positive impacts health and fitness has on self-care, personal achievement and life choices. Mr Flint took the reins of the club gym in 1965 and continues to fundraise tirelessly, drives the out of school hour's bus and sets up at the monthly PCYC markets.
Young Citizen of the Year: Piyumi Ekanayake - Piyumi is an active member and volunteer of the RSPCA, Minimbah Indigenous School, and assiting with Meals on Wheels. Piyumi has fundraised for the homeless, raising money for shelters and food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior Citizen of the Year: Amin Amini - Amin has contributed to many aspects of the Armidale community during the 40 years that he has lived in Armidale. He is a very active member and former president of the Armidale Harmony Group, a retired lecturer at the University of New England where he was involved and supported a diverse range of activities at UNE.
Community Services Award: Kelso Looker - Kelso has been president of the Armidale Show Society for 11 years. In 2021, Kelso's efforts were enormous when he spent many months organising the show as a virtual event to ensure the success and inclusion of pavilion entries during COVID-19. The show was a truly remarkable success and highlighted Kelso's ability to be flexible and generate ideas to help sustain the Armidale show for the community.
Sportsperson of the Year: Timothy Murray - Timothy has been nominated for his success and commitment to golf and his amazing achievement in winning 10 Club championships in a row, 11 in total. He also won the NSW State Sand Green Championship in March 2021. Tim donates his time on the golf course helping with maintenance as well as the clinic for new female players.
Contribution to sports and Recreation: Anthony McMillian and Anthony Kelly
Anthony McMillian is the president of the Armidale Blues Rugby and Netball club, a position he has held for the past five years. Anthony commits tirelessly to this role and has been involved with the rugby club for 40 years. He has been the backbone of the Soldier On Initiative, where the club holds a charity match each year that raised $18,000 in 2021. Anthony has also been an instrumental part of ensuring that the fields are kept neat and tidy and in great playing order.
Anthony Kelly grew up in Armidale and recently broke the Guinness World Record for the most coaches qualifications in multiple sports, an outstanding 21 times. This is Anthony's 50th World Record and Guinness have called him "greatest record holder ever". He has taught many Armidale children the art of martial arts in his studio and helped many children in the classroom as a Teacher's Aid.
Environmental Citizen of the year: Peter Metcalfe - Peter is a champion for the Armidale environment, and throughout his retirement, he has worked in schools assisting teachers as well as conducting tours to different parts of Australia for international visitors. Peter has worked in the Solomon Islands and parts of Africa assisting teachers with science programmes. His contribution to local environmental issues has been constant and forthcoming. Peter's travels have resulted in the discovery of a number of unknown species of orchids, one of which was named after him.
Mayor's Award: Joy Harrison - Joy continues to contribute to the Armidale community and has for many years. She has a strong passion for helping refugees and people from non-English speaking backgrounds navigate the health system and other life needs. Joy will go above and beyond to assist people in any way she can. Her selflessness and generosity has given many in our community hope, love and support. She often helps families get into schooling, drives patients to their medical appointments, offered her home as a drop-in centre in times of need, and has worked tirelessly with many community groups to put systems in place for our Ezidi community. On top of all of this, Joy works as a nurse at the Armidale Hospital.
At the end of the award ceremony, a multicultural range of entertainment commenced with dance performances and a smoking ceremony from Bob Blair.
Young local dance ensemble The Gorgan Dance Group led by Malakye Cook wowed the crowd while art and craft was on display with artists Adam Spencer and Tyler Stackman on hand to answer questions and sell their work.
There was also a traditional dance display by the Pacificas - a group of Costa Tomato Farm workers who hail from Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa.
Lunch was provided by vendors offering everything from Ezidi to Thai food - demonstrating the town's eclectic community composition.
Then, local band, Terra Firma performed as a finale for the Central Park event at 2pm before Holy Smoke lit up the sky with a firework show in Rologas Park to end Australia Day in Armidale.
If you didn't get there - you missed a great day, but hopefully, the occasion has set an event benchmark for Armidale Regional Council to deliver annually - although a little financial helping hand will probably be needed to achieve it for the next few years.
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