Brighton’s Australia Day awards recognise community achievement

BRIGHTON Council held its annual volunteers civic reception on Australia Day this year with the reception held at the Brighton Civic Centre and attended by in excess of 150 invited guests.Deputy Mayor, Cr Geoff Taylor conducted an Australia Day citizenship ceremony for Mrs Nida Kemp of Bridgewater in front of her happy family.

On behalf of the Mayor, Cr Leigh Gray presented his Australia Day message before introducing the Woolworths Australia Day Ambassador.

This year’s Woolworths Australia Day Ambassador was Neil Soullier OAM. Neil introduced the concept of Blue Ribbon Day as an annual event and works with police agencies and community groups to promote Blue Ribbon Day and other public benefit programs. Blue Ribbon Day is part of the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation which was formed back in 1988, following the murders of Constables Steven Tynan and Damian Eyre.

Neil has served as a volunteer and board member for 12 years, before taking over as the foundation’s full-time chief executive officer. Neil is also a director of the Emergency Services Foundation, an associate member of the Australasian Institute of Policing and advisor to several other community and non-profit organisations. Due to his background in the competitive business arena and with the assistance of many dedicated volunteers, the Blue Ribbon Foundation grew from an annual turnover of $180,000 to almost $1.5 million very quickly.

In his address, Neil told the audience what Australia Day meant to him.

Leah Selby, store manager of Bridgewater Woolworths presented Neil with the Australia Day Ambassador pin.

Cr Leigh Gray announced winners of the Australia Day awards with the Deputy Mayor and ambassador handing the recipients their awards. This year’s winners were:

· Community event of the year – Circus Play and Show (Salvation Army & Good Beginnings)

· Volunteer of the year – Jo Cook

· Young citizen of the year – Jeremy Lathouras

· Citizen of the Year – Robyn Manton

This year Council also presented three residents with the inaugural Mayor’s special achievement certificates. The recipients were:

· Peggy Creed

· Anne Gunn

· Elizabeth Hoare

These certificates were presented in appreciation of years of service that these women have provided within the municipality. Congratulations to all those who have been recognised by the community.

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From left, Marie Bennett (event of the year); Jo Cook (volunteer of the year); Jeremy Lathouras (junior citizen of the year); Robyn Manton (citizen of the year); Neil Soullier (Australia Day ambassador); Cr Leigh Gray (Brighton Council).

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