Coolum’s Australia Day awards were presented in a surprise ceremony at a business networking night last week, rendering the astonished recipients almost speechless.
The town’s annual awards ceremony was originally planned as part of the January 26 Australia Day spectacular that, like many other celebrations across the coast, fell victim to the aftermath of Cyclone Oswald.
Coolum Business and Tourism president Noel Mooney was announced as the 2013 Citizen of the Year at the Association’s monthly network night, held at Coolum Beach Bowls Club last Wednesday.
Coolum-Peregian RSL president Bill Powell, who thought he was attending a committee dinner at the Bowls Club restaurant, was left speechless when he was announced as the Volunteer of the Year.
The final award for the evening was presented to Coolum State School’s P&C Committee, largely for their work in presenting the community-wide Coolum Carnival each year.
Coolum’s annual citizen awards are a proud Australia Day tradition for the beachside community. Winners are nominated by residents and judged by representatives of the Coolum Lions, Lionesses and Coolum Business and Tourism groups.
The criteria for each category relies heavily on the winner having made significant contributions to the community over several years, and it is the second time 2013 Citizen of the Year, Noel Mooney has been honoured for his outstanding efforts.
A Coolum resident since 1995, Mr Mooney is well known for his work with the hugely successful Coolum Kite Festival, as well as his long-term involvement with the Coolum Business and Tourism Association (formerly Coolum Chamber of Commerce).
His tireless efforts to promote the seaside tourist destination have seen him nicknamed ‘the honorary Mayor of Coolum’ and he is kept busy as a partner of the North Shore Realty group, which owns offices at Coolum and Marcoola and includes a body corporate business and the accommodation website www.coolumholidays.com.au.
Mr Mooney also owns the popular www.coolum.com.au website – a one-stop-shop of all things Coolum where he provides support for community groups and local businesses.
“There’s a lot of passionate people in this town, like the Lions and our own Coolum Business and Tourism committee, that put a lot of effort into promoting this place and I really appreciate this award. I’m very humble about it,” Mr Mooney said.
Volunteer of the Year recipient Bill Powell was lost for words when he was unceremoniously plucked from his seat in the Bowls Club ‘Rollers Restaurant’ to receive his award after being lured to the venue for a ‘committee dinner’.
Mr Powell has served as the Coolum-Peregian RSL President since 2007, and his passion for the job has seen the town’s Anzac Day Ceremony grow to being one of the biggest and most respected dawn services on the coast. Mr Powell also takes time out to conduct memorial services at the district’s schools and nursing homes in the lead up to Anzac Day each year.
As a former Warrant Officer caterer in the RAAF, his dedication to raising the profile of Australia’s service men and women has seen him welcome many defence force groups to the RSL, as well as supporting several youth initiatives within the community.
As a highly awarded Chess player and life member of the Sunshine Coast and Queensland Chess Clubs, Bill also hosts his namesake, the prestigious ‘Bill Powell Open’ Chess tournament at the RSL each year.
“This was a total surprise and when you think of all the wonderful people around Coolum that do fantastic work; to get an award like this is very special for me. I’m actually very short of words,” a humbled Mr Powell said.
Although facing some health issues this year, Mr Powell’s commitment to the Coolum community has not wavered and on Thursday, he was sworn in for another 12-month term as Coolum-Peregian RSL’s President.
Named as the 2013 Community Group of the Year, Coolum State School’s P&C Association’s fundamental roles include running the school’s uniform shop, a nutritional tuckshop, and a professional outside school hours childcare service.
But, for the past 15 years, the non-profit group has organised the town’s biggest annual celebration, the Coolum Carnival; successfully linking the school with the wider community and drawing crowds of up to 10,000 annually.
The standout community event not only brings the entire town together, but also benefits the 95-year-old school’s 1000-plus students to the tune of $40,000 profit per year, which is ploughed back into infrastructure and classroom resources.
2013 is the second year in a row that Coolum’s annual Australia Day Spectacular has been derailed by inclement weather, and as the rest of the Queensland celebrated Australia Day Take II on 23 February, the 2013 award recipients were just glad to have been recognised for their exceptional contributions – albeit a little late!