A list of local excellence in Australia Day Awards

The 2018 list of Cowra Australia Day Award nominations has again surpassed expectations.

'We always have an impressive collection of individuals and groups nominated and the 2018 candidates are no different. With a diverse range of backgrounds, focus and duties, the judging panel have an unenviable task selecting one winner in each category. I would like to congratulate each of those nominated and thank those who have recognised their contributions," Mayor of Cowra, Cr Bill West said.

The Awards will be presented at Cowra's Australia Day celebrations on Friday 26 January 2018.

Community Group of the Year

Coles Team Circle

Coles staff are no strangers to volunteer work. This group contribute time, expertise, cooking skills and assistance to the community in their support of others. Coles Team Circle raises funds for the Cowra Hospital Auxiliary. Since starting this project, the group has raised over $48,000. The funds have provided much-needed equipment for Cowra Health Service, allowing additional treatments and services closer to home. Volunteer hours number over 2000 per year by this committed band of people.

Cowra Aqua MIPs

Cowra Community Health Service started the MIPs (or Mobility Impaired Program) over 20 years ago as an aquatherapy exercise class. The program is hosted by trained volunteers and assists with rehabilitation programs, healthy lifestyles and general well-being. The group has gone from strength to strength, with over 100 regular participants. It has transformed into a mobility improvement program to allow a wider clientele. The participants see benefits in both their health and social life, taking part in this friendly and fun activity three mornings per week.

Dr Warren Whiley Memorial Award

Gwen Clark

Gwen Clark has served as a committee member of both the Cowra Art Group and the Cowra Regional Art Gallery for many years. The Art Group has benefitted from Gwen's skills as Secretary, Publicity Coordinator, Archivist and as part of the organising group in the Lachlan Valley Biennial Art Awards. As a member of the Gallery Committee Gwen is known for her monthly "What's On" newsletter and quarterly Friends Newsletter. Gwen assists with Art Gallery openings and archiving images of the activities hosted by the Gallery. She is a Meals on Wheels volunteer, member of Probus and was also recognised in this Australia Day category in 2008.

Dr Lois Foster

Dr Lois Foster has been a part of the Cowra Eisteddfod for many years. She is known for her 'can-do' attitude, efficiency and positivity. Lois will help wherever it's needed and makes her time available to all. She has wide experience and knowledge in many areas which offers additional skills to any organisation she joins. Lois is also a volunteer of the Cowra Regional Art Gallery, helping with openings, catering and welcoming guests. Dr Lois Foster is also been a member of the Central West Branch of the Australian Federation of Graduate Women, helping to provide scholarships to local female university candidates.

Young Citizen of the Year

Kitty Brooks

Kitty has been an active community member since primary school, with roles in her school environment and the Cowra Youth Council. She has helped raise funds for Headspace, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and 40 Hour Famine. Kitty has been Deputy and Chair of the Cowra Youth Council, actively involved for over five years. She represents Cowra in Netball and Touch Football, has been a scripture teacher for young students, a Festival Youth Ambassador and has completed her HSC during this period. Kitty has won the Long Tan Leadership Award and the Andy Lawson Memorial Leadership Award at St Raphaels School for her outstanding guidance within the school environment.

Hayley Amos

Hayley is a social justice advocate. Her school recognises her positive role in raising awareness of social issues, special needs within the community and participation in local life. In 2017 Hayley was nominated for the Cowra World Peace Day Awards, recognising her commitment to equality and fairness for all. She has taken part in many community activities including Vinnies Winter Sleepout and the Catechist program. Hayley regularly does what is right, rather than what is easy. Her nomination notes the strong passion she displays for anti-discrimination and standing up for others.

Olivia Perkins

Olivia's contributions to the Cowra Shire are many and varied. She has been a member of the Cowra Youth Council since 2013, as Chair or Deputy for three years. Olivia has been involved in Council presentations, Festival Youth Ambassador, Winner of both the World Peace Day Award and Cowra Show Junior Rural Achiever, and Winner of a Gold Medallion at Cowra High School for six years – the highest award available. She excels in sport as a participant, umpire and coach. Olivia has recently been selected to join 10 other Australian students at the 2018 Global Young Leaders Conference in New York and Washington.

Grace Gallagher

Grace Gallagher is a community-minded young lady. She has been an active school and church member, taking part in fundraising, church presentations, donating food and time to community lunches and assisting Parish Priest Fr Laurie with slideshows during mass. Grace has been elected school captain for 2018 and will continue to display her leadership skills to the students of St Raphaels. She is a member of the Torsion Youth Choreographic Ensemble, a dance teacher and participant in community events as part of this group.

Shiayn Newham-Gregg

Shiayn is a member of the Cowra Youth Council, joining in 2015. She has been part of fundraising for headspace, Youth Week activities, Cowra World Peace Forum, White Ribbon Day, and Random Acts of Kindness. Shiayn has been a big fundraiser for Cowra PCYC at Bunnings Barbecues, selling chocolates, holding raffles and car washes. She takes part in school activities as a leader of junior students and participates as a representative in many sports.

Cowra Citizen of the Year

Bryan Dawes

Bryan Dawes loves Cowra. He has been a part of many service and community organisations including a founding member of the Cowra Motor Sports Club, Wyangala Motor Boat & Ski Club, Rotary, Cowra Antique Vehicle Club, Midwest Historic Motor Club and the Wyangala Waters Trust. Bryan isn't just a member; he is an active participant in every group he joins. Rotary has seen the benefit of his skills over many years, culminating in the Paul Harris Fellowship in both 1988 and 2003, an award recognising outstanding contributions to club and community. Bryan was the first Cowra Rotarian to be awarded this high honour.

Bruce Pietsch

St John's Anglican Church knows the continued support of Bruce Pietsch keeps them running. Bruce arranges the St John's Book Fair twice annually, raising around $10,000 from second-hand book sales. This has been a project of Bruce's for over 10 years. He is diligent in the process of arranging the books to allow easy access for purchasers. Bruce continues his work long after the Book Fair ends, donating any excess books to Lifeline Book Fair in Canberra. Bruce sees this as another way to recycle books but more importantly to support others in need.

Jenni Fagan

Jenni is no stranger to Cowra's community. She is a well-known supporter of many organisations, as both member and donor. Jenni is currently involved as Chair of Cowra Wine Show, President and Publicity Officer of Cowra Lady Golfers, Secretary of Cowra Bridge Club, Patron of Cowra Eisteddfod, President of Cowra Branch Education Foundation and Publicity Officer of Central West Branch of Australian Federation of Graduate Women. Jenni also administers the Calleen Trust, which provides prize money for the Calleen Art Award and the Eisteddfod Aria program.

Lyn Gray

Lyn Gray came to Cowra to start a flying school. Sound crazy? Well she did it. Lyn built her school, Fly Oz, and has continued to develop it into a significant business. She is a nationally accredited flying instructor and has employed six other instructors. Lyn has brokered an arrangement with the Thailand Government to train Thai students, further enhancing her business and building community participation. Lyn is a quiet achiever, steadily embedding herself in the community and taking part in many community activities.

Diane Graham

Di Graham is the kind of person everyone wants on their side. She advocates for everyone, but particularly clients of the Cowra Special Needs Service. Di has been Coordinator of the Life Skills Service for many years. In 2017, the National Disability Insurance Scheme began with many changes, making it almost impossible to decipher the program. Di didn't hesitate to offer her help to her clients, all day, every day. She spent considerable time preparing her clients to transfer into this program, helping find out what they needed, what they wanted and how they could achieve these goals. She committed countless hours of her own time in assisting clients, so much more than her job requires. Di is known for her compassion, availability to clients at any time, emotional support to clients and families, and especially the consideration she gives to all who may need it.