Federal MP’s Fisher Community Awards recognise local contribution

Andrew Wallace MP with the winners and finalists of the 2020 and 2021 Fisher Awards.

A Sunshine Coast retirement village manager who personally delivered birthday cakes, library books and easter eggs to residents during lock down and a Currimundi retiree who makes toys and blankets from recycled materials for those in need were recognised at Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace’s Fisher Community Awards last night. 18 community groups, volunteers and businesses took home medallions at the awards, which included winners from the cancelled 2020 Awards ceremony as well as those for this year.

Mr Wallace said that despite impending COVID-19 restrictions, he was determined that the awards go ahead safely this time.

“COVID-19 did not stop the Sunshine Coast’s volunteers in 2020 and 2021 and it was not going to stop us recognising their life-changing contribution. I want to thank everyone who came along last night to celebrate the huge role that volunteers have played on the Sunshine Coast during this most challenging time.” Mr Wallace said.

Winners included Jodi Salmond, a marine scientist specialising in coral reef ecology who uses hands on research and community education to encourage everyone to become the best versions of themselves and to look after the planet; Lyn Gale, who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Currimundi Special School through her Annual Cocktail Party event; and local innovator BakSlap, a company whose founder Raphael McGowan took a personal tragedy and turned it into a positive quest for the goodness of others by creating a new life-saving sunblock applicator product. 

Andrew Wallace MP with Stella Romagnoli of The Global Hub for Women, Peter Kennedy of Sunshine Coast Young Veterans and Morag Richardson representing RoboCoast, the finalists and winner of the 2021 Andrew Wallace Award.
Andrew Wallace MP with Stella Romagnoli of The Global Hub for Women, Peter Kennedy of Sunshine Coast Young Veterans and Morag Richardson representing RoboCoast, the finalists and winner of the 2021 Andrew Wallace Award.

“Over the past 12 months we have needed the resilience, the compassion and the energy of our volunteers and community leaders more than ever. As many locals lost their jobs, homes or businesses, and our young students struggled with isolation and learning from home, the dedicated work of our teachers, community groups and business leaders at times made all the difference. Last night was about saying thank to you to those unsung thousands in our region, and I hope inspiring even more to do their bit.” Mr Wallace said.

The Andrew Wallace Award, recognising a significant contribution from a local community group went to Gateway Care in 2020 and Sunshine Coast Young Veterans in 2021. Gateway Care provide food rescue and low-cost groceries for families in need, and a Community Café where individuals can connect, show kindness, share their stories and support one another. Sunshine Coast Young Veterans do life-saving work establishing a community where local veterans both young and old can connect on a social level, forming essential links to help maintain their mental health as well as making a wider contribution to the community.

“Last night’s awards were full of inspiring stories. We had more than a few laughs, and more than a few tears from winners and audience alike. It is a real privilege to learn so much more about some of the local legends who are our community’s greatest assets and recognise some of the people who work so hard and ask for nothing in return.” Mr Wallace said.

Other winners included Sheila Vickery from Currimundi who collects old cloth to make blankets, toys and more for the emergency services, the local hospital and Salvation Army; and Kate Clark of Halcyon Parks Retirement Village who kept up resident morale during lockdown by personally delivering pizza, coffee, easter eggs, birthday cakes, library books and even full shopping trips for residents who were too fearful to leave home.

“I want our part of the Sunshine Coast to be the place to be for Education, Employment and Retirement, and that’s why I set up these awards. I want to do everything I can to recognise and encourage the people in our schools, our workplaces, health care facilities and community groups who are making that a reality with their work in the community. I am already looking forward to coming back next year with the fifth Fisher Community Awards!” Mr Wallace said.

Initial nominations were called for from the public and well over 100 were received in both 2019 and 2020. The winners in each category were selected from the public’s nominations by a judging panel made up of representatives of the Fisher Youth Council, Business Council and Seniors Council as well as Mr Wallace himself. These councils are consultation groups, drawn from local residents, set up in 2017 by Mr Wallace. Winners received a medallion and certificate. 

The 2021 award categories and winners were:

The Andrew Wallace Award:                                      Young Veterans Sunshine Coast

Education:

  • Fisher Educator of the Year:                         Lara Taylor-Hayhurst (Mooloolaba Outside School Hours Care)
  • Fisher Student of the Year:                          Charlie Bidgood (Glasshouse Christian College)
  • Fisher Education Provider of the Year:     Sunshine Coast Technical Trade Training Centre

Employment:

  • Fisher Business of the Year:                         The Bottle Community
  • Fisher Employee of the Year:                       Kate Clarke (Halcyon Parks Retirement Village)
  • Fisher Innovator of the Year:                       The Allied Health Team

Seniors:

  • Fisher Senior of the Year:                                              Sheila Vickery
  • Fisher Senior Community Group of the Year:        Little Village Theatre

The 2020 award categories and winners were:

The Andrew Wallace Award:                                      Gateway Care

Education:

  • Fisher Educator of the Year:                         Jodi Salmond (Reef Check Australia)
  • Fisher Student of the Year:                          Mia Seefeld (Chancellor State College)
  • Fisher Education Provider of the Year:     Sunshine Coast Technical Trade Training Centre

Employment:

  • Fisher Business of the Year:                         Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast
  • Fisher Employee of the Year:                       Lyn Gale (Currimundi Special School)
  • Fisher Innovator of the Year:                       BakSlap

Seniors:

  • Fisher Senior of the Year:                                              Sharon Garrick (Alex Surf Club)
  • Fisher Senior Community Group of the Year:        Maleny & District Senior Citizens