Hundreds gathered last night to celebrate their local heroes and to welcome Australia’s newest citizens to the Shire.
The special event was an opportunity to acknowledge the many individuals and groups for their significant community, sporting and cultural achievements and contributions within the Mareeba Shire.
Mr Jim Blakeney was named Citizen of the Year for his dedication and commitment to the Mareeba Rodeo Association for over 45 years.
Mayor Tom Gilmore said Jim was recognised also for his leadership, holding the honorary position of President of the organisation for 32 years.
“Jim has demonstrated a high level of professionalism and community contribution beyond previous expectations to the association,” Cr Gilmore said.
The Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to two worthy recipients. Katelyn Dickinson and Kate Wilcox were recognised for their exceptional display of leadership, community service and academic achievements.
Mayor Tom Gilmore said both Katelyn and Kate possess leadership qualities which inspire others to follow their example. “They demonstrated pride in the Mareeba Shire by being active young citizens who value service to others,” Cr Gilmore said.
Kuranda Envirocare received the environmental excellence award for 2017 while Kiara Cabassi accepted the Arts and Culture award.
The Junior Community Service Award was awarded to Mareeba State High School Student Council for raising awareness of mental health issues with the aim of reducing the stigma associated mental illness.
Grant Bell and the St Thomas’ Catholic Church Debutante Ball committee jointly received the Senior Community Service award for their ongoing voluntary work within the community.
Upcoming sports stars Callum McCarthy and Neil Prince both received a highly commended award for their achievements in the sporting field, while futsal national representative, Tyler Ius was awarded the Junior Sports Award for 2017.
For the second year in a row, Jennifer McCarthy has received the Senior Sports award after representing Australia in the 70.2 ironman last year.
The celebration also included a Citizenship Ceremony, at which 16 candidates became naturalised, choosing to call Mareeba Shire home.
YOUNG CITIZENS OF THE YEAR
Katelyn Dickinson: Katelyn graduated from Mareeba State High School last year. The 17 year old displays strong leadership, academic and social service qualities.
While attending Mareeba State High School, Katelyn held various leadership roles including School Captain in 2016. She was also an active member of the Interact Club and Student Representative Council.
Katelyn’s sense of social service extends to the wider community. She is a member and volunteer of the Mareeba Swimming Club and Netball Association. Katelyn also participated in Relay for Life and volunteers at McDonalds for McHappy Day to raise money for the Ronald McDonald Foundation.
In 2016, Katelyn was awarded Dux of the Year at Mareeba State High School, Caltex All-rounder and earned an OP 1. Katelyn was also the recipient of the Order of Australia Association Secondary Citizen Award 2016.
Kate Wilcox: An all-round achiever, Kate graduated from St Stephen’s Catholic College last year and also received an OP1.
Kate has been an excellent role model for the youth of both her school and local community through her strong work ethic, determination, academic and sporting ability, leadership qualities, active citizenship and service to others.
In her capacity as School Captain, Kate gave generously of her time and energy to many civic and community events including Anzac Day, Relay for Life and The Great Wheelbarrow Race.
In 2016 Kate was awarded Senior Dux of St Stephen’s Catholic College, Rotary All-rounder and the Public Speaking award. Kate was also the recipient of the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin award for honouring the Olympic spirit in her interactions with others in the sporting field and always considering the marginalised. Kate won the 2016 Lions Youth of the Year at a local level and went on to compete at a district level.
A talented athlete, Kate captained the Peninsula U19 Girls Hockey team at state titles and represented St Stephen’s at a district level for swimming and athletics, while also being the district champion for cross country.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Jim Blakeney: Upon his retirement Jim was bestowed the title of Inaugural Inductee into the Mareeba Rodeo Hall of Fame. In 2005 he was awarded a Tableland Sport and Recreation Association Sports Star award. In 2006 Jim was recognised by his community and awarded the Australia Day Sports Administrator award.
Under the leadership of Jim, the Mareeba Rodeo won Community Event of the year in 2009. The Mareeba Rodeo Association was awarded the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association Rodeo Committee of the Year in 2012.
Under Jim’s leadership, Kerribee Park, the home of the Mareeba Rodeo is now considered to be the ultimate venue for major events.
The Mareeba Rodeo has grown to become an institution in Mareeba Shire and the greater north Queensland region and it plays a part in encouraging sport, recreation, tourism and economic activity throughout the region. This is the legacy that Jim Blakeney has built and has now passed to the next generation.
Jim has demonstrated a high level of professionalism and community contribution beyond previous expectations to the association.