Townsville locals awarded for community work

Seven community-minded Townsville locals have had their hard work recognised at today’s Australia Day Awards.

Mayor Jenny Hill presented the recipients with their awards at Jezzine Barracks this morning as part of Townsville City Council’s Australia Day celebrations. 

“The Australia Day Awards recognise Townsville locals who go above and beyond to serve their community,” Cr Hill said.

“It’s been a tough 12 months for all of us, but the seven recipients of this year’s Australia Day Awards still managed to make a meaningful difference across the city despite the pandemic setbacks.” 

Cr Hill said there was a strong focus on saving the environment in this year’s group of Australia Day Award winners.

“Both Dave Dudley, who is our Citizen of the Year, and Emily Walker, who is the Young Citizen of the Year, are focused on keeping our city clean and preserving our natural environment. Dave runs TIDY, which cleans up illegal dumping spots, and Emily has worked tirelessly to push for a single-use plastic ban,” she said.

“Meanwhile Frana McKinstry has been recognised for her commitment to beekeeping and protecting Townsville’s biodiversity by being named the recipient of the Environmental Excellence and Sustainability Award.

“It’s wonderful to have such passionate, eco-minded locals recognised for their hard work.”

Cr Hill said there was also a spotlight on sport and arts.

“Our Arts and Culture Award recipient Alex Salvador is well-known around town for his Full Moon Drum Circle, which is approaching its 20th anniversary. It’s wonderful to see years of commitment to bringing arts and culture front and centre in Townsville,” she said.

“Peter Shefford is known for being the Sharks Touch Football Club president, and now he’s being recognised for the hard work that goes into that role by being named our Community Volunteer Award recipient. 

“Tony Gordon and Deklen Emonson have received the Senior Sports Award and the Junior Sports Award. They’re both runners who have gone above and beyond in their training in the last year and have helped to pass their knowledge on to the people around them.

“It is a pleasure to have so many thoughtful and hardworking residents in Townsville, and to be able to recognise them at this time of year is a real joy. Congratulations to all of the recipients.” 

Dave Dudley – Citizen of the Year

Dave Dudley makes an outstanding contribution to the Townsville community and environment by proactively cleaning up illegally dumped rubbish throughout Townsville and surrounds. His passion for the outdoors led him to start TIDY – Townsville Illegal Dumping Yobbo’s Clean-Ups, gaining the support of many community members and local businesses in his plight to crack down on and deter illegal dumping in the region. He has appeared regularly on Triple M radio advising the community when the next clean-up will be and imploring locals to get involved in bettering our city and its future.

Emily Walker – Young Citizen of the Year

Emily Walker is an environmental champion who actively lobbies the impact of single use plastics on the environment. Emily has worked to encourage members of the community to reduce the amount of plastic they consume through multiple campaigns, including the construction of a seat made of 180,000 plastic straws which is installed at Anderson Gardens. She has worked in collaboration with the Boomerang Alliance and the launch of the Plastic Free Townsville program and has established an Eco-Council at her school. Emily is an Imagination Ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience and is currently working on a sculpture to raise awareness about the dangers of microplastics to marine life.

Alexander Salvador – Arts and Culture Award

Alexander Salvador is well known as the founder and facilitator of the Full Moon Drum Circle, which was established in 2001. The Full Moon Drum Circle is an inclusive cultural experience like no other, catering for people of all ages and abilities and can see up to 500 people participating at events throughout the year. Since COVID-19, the Full Moon Drum Circle events have been moved to Queensland Country Bank Stadium where the event continues to be successful in a COVID-safe environment. Over the last 20 years Alexander has worked tirelessly to create a movement throughout the community seeing thousands of people involved in the Full Moon Drum Circle.

Peter Shefford – Community Volunteer Award

Peter Shefford has been heavily involved in both sporting community volunteer roles for more than three decades. He holds many roles, some of which include president of the Sharks Touch Football Club, Assistant Technical Director for North Queensland Touch, NQ Touch Coaching Course Assessor, a Committee member of the Townsville Pirates Masters Rugby League and Coach of the Queensland Men’s 50’s Touch team for the 2021 State of Origin series. Peter also volunteered as a mentor with the Happy Touch All Abilities Touch Team.

Outside of his sporting commitments, Peter also volunteers as a maths tutor at Bluewater Community Centre and the Cowboys NRL House. Peter has undertaken all this and more in the last 12 months while juggling chemotherapy treatment battling stage 4 bowel cancer. Since being diagnosed, Peter has joined with the Eyes Front charity, setting up a legacy fund to assist military veterans living with a terminal illness. He has been made a wellness leader and uses his cancer journey page on social media to inspire and educate others. More recently, he has published a book on positive affirmations to inspire those who may suffer from mental health issues.

Tony Gordon – Senior Sports Award

Tony Gordon has been a strong local distance runner and prominent in the athletics and running community of Townsville since 1999. His running ability is outweighed by his enthusiasm to see others achieve their best. Over the last year Tony mentored several juniors navigating a very challenging developmental year in sport. Tony often put others’ training and development ahead of his own, however this did not stop him from achieving many accolades and personal goals throughout 2020, some of which include a 101km Summits of Townsville Tour run in less than 11 hours, winning the Townsville Virtual Running Festival Marathon, the King of the Castle race, all four long-course Outer Limits Adventure Trail races and completing the fastest 10km by a Townsville local since the 1990s. Tony’s mentality of remaining diligent and focusing on personal goals to allow a long term outcome has benefitted both himself and many runners in the region over the years. 

Deklen Emonson – Junior Sports Award

Deklen Emonson has had a fantastic year developmentally in his athletic pursuits lowering all of his personal best performances considerably, taking more than 80 seconds off his 5km time in the space of 10 months. Despite no national events being held during 2020, Deklen was named on four Queensland representative squads.

He placed first in both the Under 18s 1500m and 3000m events at the Athletics North Queensland championships, fourth in the Under 18s Queensland State Championship Cross Country and fourth in the Under 17s Queensland State Championship 1500m. Deklen has been recognised by a college in the US and offered an athletic scholarship while still only in grade 11.

Frana McKinstry – Environmental Excellence and Sustainability Award

Frana McKinstry has been an integral part of the Townsville and District Beekeeping Association for more than a decade. Frana provides beekeeping advice and hosts regular workshops to the James Cook University veterinary science students. She and her husband Jon are passionate about rescuing native bees and passing them on to local schools to educate the students and protect our native biodiversity. Frana’s passion for the environment, in particular, honey and native bees, has allowed both her and Jon to have mentored countless members of the Townsville and District Beekeeping Association and the wider community and built the club to have more than 400 members.