PHOTOS

Kittie Dwyer is Parkes' 2020 Citizen of the Year

There were priceless smiles and expressions, there were some tears and there were heartfelt words about how tough the last 12 months have been, both near and far.

But above all there were messages of hope, pride, determination and togetherness.

These are the feelings that came out of Cooke Park and across the Parkes Shire on Sunday during the 2020 Australia Day awards ceremonies and community celebrations.

The annual awards celebrate and acknowledge outstanding community, sporting and cultural contributions and achievements made at a local level by Parkes Shire residents.

Winners of the Parkes Shire Sport Awards can be found here.

There were junior winners who said they were honoured to receive their awards and how "everyone should be so proud to have been nominated".

They expressed great pride for the community they worked and lived in, and represented - while the more senior recipients were almost speechless, feeling like the award should have gone to someone else other than themselves.

One such person who felt there were so many deserving people who had done so much for the community in her award category was Parkes' 2020 Citizen of the Year Kittie Dwyer.

A very surprised Kittie took to the podium after hugs and congratulations from her fellow nominees to say that everyone who contributes to the community should be praised and thanked.

Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM - who announced the award and Australia Day ambassador Father Chris Riley AM presented it - said it was the voluntary work of all of the nominees that made the Parkes Shire the wonderful place they all enjoyed.

A product from Trundle originally, Kittie has been a lifelong resident of the Parkes Shire and is well known for her dedication, passion and determination for the community.

She started the Currajong Carers Support Group and remained its chair and facilitator for many years.

As former chair of the group and a board member of Currajong Disability Services, Kitty's positive attitude was instrumental to providing the best care and options for the community.

Kitty established a palliative care volunteer support community for Parkes in 2010 and successfully conducted grief and loss programs to support community members experiencing grief associated with the loss of a loved one.

She's been described in her nomination as "a very generous, thoughtful community-minded lady who still remains very motivated and willing to share her extensive knowledge and empathy to ensure residents of Parkes and surrounding community townships have access to support and care".

Four inspiring young women were nominated for this year's Young Citizen of the Year - Robert Wilson OAM Memorial Award.

"I have a sense of pride in each of these dedicated young ladies contributing to our community, and know that with young citizens such as themselves, Parkes Shire is in great hands and I wish them all well in their future endeavours," Cr Keith said at the ceremony.

NOMINEES: Young Citizen of the Year nominees Becky Wright, Elizabeth Hoyle, Melanie Smede and Phoebe Potts. Photo: Christine Little

NOMINEES: Young Citizen of the Year nominees Becky Wright, Elizabeth Hoyle, Melanie Smede and Phoebe Potts. Photo: Christine Little

Phoebe Potts said she was "incredibly honoured" to be Parkes' Young Citizen of the Year.

This award is in memory of the town's long-serving mayor Robert Wilson OAM who gave so much to the community.

In 2019, Phoebe was nominated for the Tennis NSW Young Volunteer of the Year Award - selected in the top four for her leadership qualities, mentoring young players and encouraging fellow squad members.

The teenager who completed her HSC last year, regularly volunteers at tennis events, as well as encourages younger girls to get involved in working bees and help older club members.

She was vice captain of Parkes High School last year and has been an enthusiastic role model who has played a major part in coordinating activities including the school's colour run, Bullying NoWay Day, Christmas parade float, trivia night for farmers, athletics events and ANZAC Day services.

"Phoebe has volunteered a tremendous amount of her time to the community", her nomination read, all while undertaking her HSC.

Against a tough field of nominees in this year's Community Event of the Year category, the Pink Up Parkes campaign was announced the recipient.

Parkes participated in the Pink Up Your Town fundraiser for the first time last October, successfully turning things pink through numerous events - thanks to volunteers, businesses, clubs, community groups and individuals - raising more than $34,000 and awareness for the McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurses.

Elizabeth Briton was named this year's winner of the Parkes Shire Environment Award.

She has made significant contributions to Parkes' environment, including designing and developing the new Town Entry Garden which boasts significant sustainable features such as water wise native plants and topographic landscaping to enhance water flow.

Elizabeth is now working on the design of a bush tucker garden that will provide an interactive Wiradjuri learning space and has the potential to harvest native foods.

"Elizabeth's contributions to these projects have been invaluable," her nomination read.

"[Her] talent, knowledge and passion for the environment has enhanced our community, providing inspirational spaces to appreciate the natural world."

Elizabeth has also volunteered her time, hosting children's workshops for the 2019 Kindy Eco Days.

This year's recipient of the Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO Academic Achievement Award was Shonel Redfern, who successfully completed a Certificate III in Business Administration with finance electives at Parkes TAFE.

"Shonel completed her TAFE work independently with meticulous detail... [She] is a working mother and helps her husband with his small service business and is a very worth recipient," her nomination read.

Parkes' cultural achievements were also recognised in three forms on Sunday - through student, adult and group awards.

Singer Hannah Dun was presented the Student Cultural Award.

Hannah has performed at major Parkes community events including White Ribbon Day, the 50th Anniversary Apollo 11, 2019 National Busking Championships, Southern Cross Village fete and Quota International Women's Day.

She won the junior section of the Performers Platform at the Peak Hill Show and was recently awarded the Dorothea and Andrew Tom Award for Excellence in Music.

She also reached the second round of auditions for the NSW Department of Education's School Spectacular as a solo performer.

Meanwhile owner and founder of the Little Art Company, Leanne Wilson, was announced the recipient of the Adult Cultural Award.

The Little Art Company was set up to bring art classes to children to enhance the cultural development of the Parkes Community.

Leanne runs a series of art classes and workshops in the afternoons and school holidays, broadening the opportunity for Parkes children to develop and follow cultural pursuits.

In 2019, she worked with a group of youth artists to facilitate their development of an exhibition entitled 'To the Moon and Back' where students produced artworks for public display to mark the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Leanne supports local events and exhibitions by encouraging her students to enter their works, such as in the Parkes Show and Waste to Art exhibitions.

A very familiar troupe in town, particularly during the Parkes Elvis Festival - the Parkes Boppers Dance Troupe won the Group Cultural Award.

The Boppers is a group of local children aged between six and 17 years, who get together around October each year to choreograph several dance routines solely to be performed at the annual Parkes Elvis Festival.

They are a non-profit group who take part in the festival for fun and have done so for the past five years.

During the festival the Boppers entertain crowds, perform at aged care facilities, perform on the Memphis Stage, greet passengers, and entertain at the official festival opening.

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