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Byron Shire Australia Day - pays tribute to five outstanding locals

Mayor Simon Richardson today paid tribute to the Australia Day Byron Shire award recipients and thanked them for their collective contribution to volunteering, local groups, arts, sport, planning and the environment.

"Where we live is an important place of diversity and inclusiveness and our Australia Day award recipients have these qualities in abundance.

"On the world stage, Australia has much to celebrate, to be grateful for and share.

"In Australia we are more inclusive than most, value equality more than most and look after each other, better than most.

"It's these actions that make us who we are and we thank the following people who have given so freely of their time and energy to make our Shire the truly incredible place that it is," he said.

The Byron Shire's Citizen of the Year was awarded to Christopher Hanley.

Mayor Richardson said Mr Hanley had been central to the development of the literary, cultural and intellectual life of the region.

"Thanks to his contributions, locals can listen to, debate, appreciate, contemplate and connect over the latest ideas, cultural trends and creative approaches from around the world - here in our very own backyard.

"Back in 1995, Chris established the Northern Rivers Writers Centre and two years later, they ran the first Byron Bay Writers Festival, now the Byron Writers Festival. This signature event has grown to attract local, national and international writers and thousands of attendees.

"Chris is a person of leadership and commitment and Byron Shire is very fortunate and proud to announce him as our Byron Shire Citizen of the Year," Mayor Richardson said.

The Byron Shire Community Event of the Year was awarded to the Byron Lighthouse Run. A high profile community event over the past ten years, the run has participants aged 4-84 and takes a fun and healthy approach to raising valuable awareness and funds for charity. And all funds raised go to local charities.

The Sports Person of the Year was awarded to a young woman who has represented both Byron Bay and Australia on the international stage in the sport of Brazilian Jujitsu.

At the young age of 16, Millicent McCourt has 40 plus gold medals under her belt and and is also a three times Pan Pac Champion, three times Australian Champion, and the American national champion 2015.

The Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Susan Tsicalas. As the coordinator of the Brunswick Valley Historical Society, Susan puts in many hours to maintain the museum, work on documenting our history, and keep the Mullumbimby Community Markets running.

She volunteers with the Cancer Council, is Treasurer of the Mullumbimby Chamber of Commerce, and an active participant in Council projects for the benefit of her local community, including the Mullumbimby Masterplan and assisting with the organisation of Australia Day events in Mullumbimby for many years.

The Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to Holley Somerville-Knott, a passionate young lady who is an inspiring fundraiser and tireless promotes awareness on man social justice and environmental issues.

She is the CEO and Founder of her own organisation, the Stardust Foundation, with a mission of helping people, the planet and animals in need. Holley speaks and performs at schools, events, global conferences, rallies, universities and at the United Nations World Environment Day.

Mayor Simon Richardson also thanked Byron Shire's Australia Day Ambassador John Moriarty for his warm and motivating speech at the shire's official ceremony held in Mullumbimby.

"His strong voice, resilience and lifelong commitment to advocating for Indigenous equality, reconciliation and cultural preservation is inspiring and we are honoured to have John share is knowledge with our communities today," Mayor Richardson said.

Byron Shire also welcomed 25 new citizens into their fold from France, Switzerland, UK, Canada, Vietnam, USA, Spain, Russian Federation, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Netherlands.

Byron Shire Council would like to thank the following organisations for the continued support in hosting Australia Day community events; Combined Services of Brunswick Valley, Rotary Club of Byron Bay, Byron Bay Surf Club, The Sisters for Reconciliation, Byron Rural Fire Brigade, Ocean. Shores Community Association and the Brunswick Valley Historical Society.

Australia Day Award recipients: Lisa Parkes-Jetta (Community Event of the Year), Susan Tsicalas (Volunteer of the Year), Greg Kramer (Community Event of the Year), Holley Somerville-Knot (Young Citizen of the Year), Brigid Kramer (Community Event of the Year) and Christopher Hanley (Citizen of the Year).

Left to right - The Sisters for Reconciliation Bronwyn Sindel, Delta Kay, Marguerita Patrick and Belle Arnold with Byron Shire Australia Day Ambassador John Moriarty. 

Media contact:

Media Communication Officer
Byron Shire Council
Ph: 02 6626 7320

Byron Shire is located at Australia's eastern-most point with a population of almost 29,000. It is a thriving community where residents and visitors live, work and play in a sustainable environment and where Council strives to deliver the highest standard of local government services and infrastructure.