Australia Day awards

Australia Day, 26 January, is a community celebration. It is a day for acknowledging national and local spirit and celebrating the contributions individuals and groups make to the fabric of our community. 

The categories for the awards are:

  • Citizen of the Year
  • Young Citizen of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Community Group of the Year

Awards will be presented at a ceremony.

2020 Australia Day Award recipients

Council is proud to announce the following award recipients:

Citizen of the Year – Stafford and Dianne Everson

For over 40 years, Dianne and Stafford Everson, born and bred Macleay Valley residents, have contributed to the lives of Macleay Valley people.

Largely unrecognised for their charitable support of many groups across the shire, Dianne and Stafford have grown Eversons Food Processors from scratch, employing hundreds across the shire over many years.

They have never wavered in their support of various charities, community and sporting groups as well as individuals in need during challenging times.

Throughout the bushfires they arranged food drops to the upper Macleay, donated and supported to the local SES groups, and ensured that their 200 staff were kept employed even during the worst of the drought.

Despite any challenges they face personally or professionally, and within the context of 2020 and its issues, Dianne and Stafford have never wavered in their support of their staff and our community.

Young Citizen of the Year – Keely Lawrence

On top of working a full-time job as a veterinary nurse and studying veterinary technology, Keely Lawrence has found time to inspire us all as a champion of young people, the agriculture industry and the Macleay.

As the reigning Miss Kempsey Showgirl, Keely has raised over $17,000 for Dolly’s Dream charity and been named Chief Beef Steward for the 2021 Kempsey Show.

During the bushfires Keely was a front and centre volunteer in the evacuation centre and went on to volunteer with BlazeAid, repairing fences on properties throughout the shire.

Keely is an active member of the Kempsey Cancerian Committee and as a family impacted by bowel cancer, Keely and her siblings have initiated an annual fundraiser for Bowel Cancer Awareness. In 2020, not deterred by COVID, Keely took the fundraising online and still raised almost $3000.

Community Group of the Year – Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club

The Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club is celebrating 100 years of service to the Macleay this year.

The club is owned and run by its members, who have given thousands of hours service to protecting our community through the decades. The organisation has a rich history, including many heroic rescues, and has almost 200 members at present. The successful nippers program has attracted many new members to the club, keeping generations safe on our beaches.

At competition level, the boat crews have done the Macleay proud with both state and national recognition, as recently as the 2018-2019 season.

This past season, which was interrupted by COVID-19, members still managed to complete 2104 hours of community service in patrolling and maintaining Crescent Head beach as a safe aquatic zone for residents and visitors.

The Australia Day Committee were very impressed with the nominations for this category and decided to award two Highly Commended Awards for this category.

Highly Commended Awards (joint recipients) – Lilli Pilli Ladies and My Church Kempsey

The Lilli Pilli Ladies started as a small group of friends who had been impacted by cancer in various ways and they wanted to help others. They provide support for those with cancer in the Macleay Valley through popular fundraising events such as morning teas, which they have held regularly over the years. This past year, they designed creative ways to fundraise while keeping the community safe.

My Church Kempsey, also known as the Macleay Coast Church, is an active and vibrant supporter of people in need around our valley, through food donations and fellowship. The popular youth group enables young people to take a break from difficult home lives by providing access to light-hearted fun and religious education. Welcoming of everyone, the group worked throughout 2020 to support many beyond the formal church.

Volunteer of the Year (joint recipients) – Andrew Kirby and Michael Kemp

Andrew Kirby is the type of volunteer who has his hand permanently up and often puts his own business behind the needs of his community.

He is integral to the Hat Head community, volunteering hours of his time with the Hat Head Surf Club and the Hat Head Triathlon Club.

Through the Tri Club he organises races and training, constantly motivating people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. He gives his time to guide and help new members wherever possible.

In August 2020 he coordinated a Dementia Duathlon with a group target of 1000 km of riding and running to raise funds for dementia.

As an RFS volunteer, during the fires he protected the property of others through the night, then would barely make it home for a short sleep before working all day for his own business and repeating the process again for days on end.

Michael Kemp was integral in providing support to his local Wittitrin community during the Black Summer bushfires.

Throughout 2020 Michael continued to support the community by donating funds, materials and labour to build shelters over donated caravans. He personally built five of the shelters and creatively used remaining materials to supply an additional shelter to someone in need.

He has since joined the RFS and has provided initial support and funding to get the newly formed Wittitrin Progress Association off the ground, where he acts as the Communications Officer.

Additionally, through his business, Michael volunteers to speak at our local schools and community events on health and wellbeing.

Lifetime Achievement Award (a special category as nominated by the Australia Day Committee) – Kevin Farrawell

Kevin Farrawell has been a tireless worker for our community over 50 years. Since 1970 he has been a member of West Kempsey Rotary, where he was once the President and was awarded Rotary International’s highest honour, the Paul Harris Fellow Award for community service.

Through Rotary his countless community projects include the Mid Coast Trade Fair, high school science and technology fairs, local park beautification and international exchange programs.

Kevin was a founding member of the Kempsey Men’s Shed and a founding board member of the Cedar Place Nursing Home, the Slim Dusty Heritage Centre and Slim Dusty Foundation. He’s also been a member of countless community committees such as the Business Chamber, the Bush Fire Concert and CBD revamps.

Kevin started Farrawell Aluminium in 1973 and built it into one of the largest employers in Kempsey while ensuring manufacturing was always done in Kempsey. He started Farrawell Powdercoaters in 2000 and is now developing Kempsey’s only new industrial estate in almost 40 years, further expanding local employment opportunities.


Nominations for the 2022 Australia Day awards will open later this year.

Related information

2020 Australia Day Award recipients

Citizen of the Year - Tania Powick

Tania Powick was honoured with the Citizen of the Year Award for her significant contributions across many local charities and community groups.

Despite running her own business and having two sons, Tania is always generous with her time. Whether cooking sausages at the Kempsey Riverside Markets, working at the annual Rotary book sale or helping a local charity keep their books balanced, Tania is a fantastic role model.

Some of her many roles include Treasurer of Rotary Club of Kempsey; Executive Member of the Macleay Valley Business Chamber; she was a founding member and remains on the Kempsey Riverside Markets Committee; she has given 10-years service to the Macleay Valley Business Women’s Network; and she’s involved in the It’s in the Bag, Christmas Campaign for Share the Dignity.

Tania epitomises the saying ‘if you want something done - give it to a busy person’ and is a very worthy recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award.

Young Citizen of the Year (two recipients) - Serenity Clancy and Elizabeth Jackson

Young Citizen of the Year - Serenity Clancy

Young Citizen of the Year, Serenity Clancy is an active member of the community and is being recognised for her sporting and academic achievements.

On the sporting front, Serenity was named Melville High School’s Sports Person of the Year in 2019, Soccer Player of the Year and Highest Goal Scorer for the Macleay Valley Rangers women’s team. She represented her school at state level in swimming, athletics, cross country and soccer.

Among all that sport Serenity still managed 100 per cent attendance at school in 2019 and received the Year Advisors Encouragement Award; the NAIDOC Education Award and gained a school-based traineeship through the National Australia Bank.

Serenity is a great reflection of talent and determination. 

Young Citizen of the Year - Elizabeth Jackson

Elizabeth Jackson was recognised as Young Citizen of the Year in acknowledgement of her involvement with the Kempsey Show Society, including her work and fundraising efforts with the Kempsey Showgirl competition.

Involved in the Kempsey Show Society for several years and a competitive equestrian rider, Elizabeth was named the 2018 Kempsey Showgirl.

As part of the Showgirl fundraising achievements Elizabeth reintroduced the Kempsey Showgirl Ball and in 2019 she was the first Kempsey Showgirl entrant to progress to the Sydney Royal Easter Show since 2010.

Currently studying a Bachelor of Laws at the University of New England while also working full-time, Elizabeth is a fantastic role model for young people of the Macleay.

Community Group of the Year - Kempsey Cancerians

The Kempsey Cancerians Committee formed in 1987 and is now the longest running Cancerian Committee in Australia and this distinguished group are worthy recipients of the Community Group of the Year Award.

The committee met their goal at their annual Cancerians Ball in May 2019 with the total amount raised since 1987 now sitting at $1,030,505

The annual ball is a product of the tireless work and careful planning by the Kempsey Cancerians Committee and their supporters.

All proceeds from the group’s fundraising efforts go to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation who invest these dollars into research to find a cure for cancer.

Volunteer of the Year (two recipients) - Evelyn Jacobs, Ted and Winsome Walmsley  

Volunteer of the Year - Evelyn Jacobs

Evelyn Jacobs is being honoured as Volunteer of the Year for her more than 30 years commitment to fundraising, coaching and executive positions in local sporting organisations.

Over 18 years Evelyn has been a Committee member of the Kempsey Basketball Association and helped raise thousands to help players of every demographic have an opportunity to play overseas.

She is also a life member of the Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club and has helped in raising thousands of dollars for vital equipment.

Evelyn Jacobs is a tireless volunteer for the community she loves.

Volunteer of the Year - Ted and Winsome Walmsley

For over 60 years, Ted and Winsome Walmsley have selflessly volunteered their time to the community through their love of orchids, country music and sport and as such are recognised with the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Since 2000, Ted and Winsome have organised the Kempsey Orchid Show, with the three-day event attracting more than 8,000 people drawing orchard lovers from around Australia and internationally.

In 2016 Ted and Winsome were asked to host the hugely successful Australian Native Orchard Society Conference here in Kempsey.

Every month for the last 20 years the couple have also organised the Country Music Showcase at the Kempsey RSL Bowling Club. The event creates an opportunity for local country music talent to perform, creates a social occasion and connection for music lovers and raises money for the Kempsey District Hospital, Respite Care, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and Tank Radio.

A love of sport saw Ted volunteer as Treasurer and member of the Central Kempsey Rugby Club throughout the 1960’s and 70’s.

Ted and Winsome Walmsley are a truly dedicated volunteering couple.