LAUGHTER, tears of joy and emotion-filled speeches accompanied the presentation of this year’s Australia Day Awards at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
A total of 13 people became Australian citizens at the club on the day and there were 10 awards handed out.
Citizen of the Year for the Airlie Beach, Cannonvale and Proserpine areas, went to charismatic charity auctioneer Reg Gillen.
Mr Gillen calls the Calcutta for Charity at the Reef Gateway Hotel each year and has even been made an honorary member of the Proserpine Rotary Club for calling their Calcutta for more than 30 years.
He has been the Master of Ceremonies (MC), auctioneer and celebrity interviewer at countless charity events in the Whitsundays, raising at least $1 million over the years.
Ever humble, Mr Gillen said he was touched by the recognition.
“You just don’t expect those things,” he said.
This year, the Young Citizen of the Year award had two recipients – Isabelle Silberling and Todd Marshall.
Isabelle, who could not attend Monday’s event due to university commitments, was recognised for her involvement in a wide range of leadership and citizenship activities both within the Proserpine State High School and the broader community.
Todd meanwhile was described as an inspirational young man, who after narrowly surviving cancer only one year ago, set out to mentor other young people battling the disease.
He has also become a Queensland Auxiliary Fire Fighter, receiving Proserpine’s ‘First Dux’ award for achieving top marks in his training program.
Whitsunday Mayor Jennifer Whitney, who presented the awards and citizenships with the help of State MP Jason Costigan and Federal MP George Christensen, said all the winners shared a common commitment to the local community and represented “excellence in our region”.
“The winners inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better community,” she said.
Award winners for the Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Proserpine regions were:
Citizen of the Year – Reg Gillen
Young Citizen of the Year – joint winners – Todd Marshall and Isabelle Silberling
Senior Citizen of the Year – Tom Manning
Senior Sports Award – Anton Zafir
Junior Sports Award – Dylan Barbeler
Sports Administrator Award – Raylene Rasmussen
Senior Cultural Award – Choral C Voices
Junior Cultural Award – Laura Robson
Community Event of the Year – Airlie Beach Festival of Music
Wally Hinschen Volunteer of the Year Award – Gay Bowden