Australia Day 2017 | Bellingen Shire

Bellingen Shire Australia Day Award Winners 2017 

The Bellingen Shire Australia Day Committee hosted the 2017 Australia Day Community Awards and celebrations at Bellingen Memorial Hall today (Thursday, 26 January 26).

In front of an enthusiastic crowd, Mayor Dominic King along with Australia Day Ambassador, renowned speech pathologist and co-founder of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, Mary-Ruth Mendel congratulated all nominees for their contribution to our community.

The winners in each category for 2017 were:

  • Junior Sportspersons: Bellingen High School’s 14-years girls’ Futsal Team
  • Sportsperson: Talissa Alford
  • Creative Arts Youth Award: Blaise Borrer
  • Community Event: Made in Dorrigo Street Market
  • Community Group: Raleigh Hall Committee
  • Community Service: Norma Shaw
  • Young Citizen: Luke Beaumont
  • Citizen:  Ben Perrim

The mayor also conducted our first formal Citizenship Ceremony for 2017 with four local residents becoming the Shire’s latest Australian citizens.

Along with the mayor, council’s general manager Liz Jeremy, acknowledged the many individuals who volunteer their time, energy and passion, often without recognition, for the betterment of our community.

So if during the year you think somebody deserves recognition for an outstanding achievement, be sure to nominate them for one of next year’s awards.


Katie Thorn.

Katie Thorn.

Katie Thorn

Katie is an outstanding athlete who has been the Bellingen High School Athletics Age Champion from 2012 to 2016 and Mid North Coast and North Coast Champion for the 16 year age group. As well, Kate placed third at the 2016 NSW Combined High School Athletics Championships in the triple jump, long jump, open pentathlon and the 4x400m relay.

Kate is an excellent role model to other students, with her outstanding performances, commitment to training and positive attitude.

In fact, she was recognized for her achievements in 2016, being named as the Bellingen Shire Junior Sportsperson of the year.

14 years girls’ Futsal Team, Bellingen High School (accepted by Emily Ruming & Willow Neal)

This team qualified for the Australasian Futsal Championships by winning the Coffs Coast Trials and coming second at the Northern NSW trials. At the championships the girls played nine games against the best teams from Victoria, NSW and Queensland before winning the semi-final. 

They played a hard fought game in the final and ultimately finished runners up after an opposition goal during ‘sudden death’ after full-time. 

This was a tremendous achievement for the girls as prior to 2016, six of the nine players had not played futsal and three were part of the team to make the semi-finals of the Australasian Championships in 2015. 

The girls have been great role models for other students and many of them are high achievers in other local sports.

14 years girls' Futsal Team, Bellingen High School: Back, from L: Kaitlyn Glyde, Shellby Osland, Willow Berry, Emily Ruming.
Front, from L: Brynne Couper, Mia Craggs, Jorja-May Hearps, Willow Neal, Ashley Sticker.

14 years girls' Futsal Team, Bellingen High School: Back, from L: Kaitlyn Glyde, Shellby Osland, Willow Berry, Emily Ruming. Front, from L: Brynne Couper, Mia Craggs, Jorja-May Hearps, Willow Neal, Ashley Sticker.


Talissa Alford (blue).

Talissa Alford (blue).

Talissa Alford

A keen sportswoman, Talissa has been a great role model for younger athletes. In addition to being a keen swimmer and athlete, Talissa’s standout sport is hockey. 

Talissa played as a member of the NSW Bushrangers in Perth from 2011 to 2015. Her outstanding achievements in 2016 include:

  • Represented NSW Bushrangers in Japan,
  • Part of the side, winning by a score of 45 to nil in Division 3, of the NSW State Championships
  • Winning Gold in Division 1 Women’s Hockey in Coffs Harbour
  • Named Players’ Player for the season
  • Being named in the Australian Under 23s Development Squad to tour Malaysia.

Isabel Foster

Isabel Foster.

Isabel Foster.

Local girl Isabel Foster once again achieved success in the sport of endurance horse riding. Isabel is NSW and Australian top junior rider placing first in the point score and distance riding in Australia with her horse ‘Sharabel Kalarney’. 

This is a grueling sport and Isabel shows a skill and tenacity well beyond her years whilst being a positive role model to other young people in the sport. 

Isabel is currently working towards being one of four juniors to represent Australia in the 2017 World Equestrian Games in Italy.


Blaise Borrer

Blaise is a committed and accomplished local musician whose contributions include:

  • Lead trombonist in the Bellingen High School jazz band and concert band
  • Lead trombonist in the Bellingen Youth Orchestra.
  • Winner of the ‘Best Music Video’ in the ‘Rec Ya Shorts’ competition
  • Runner Up Music Video in the Film Producer/Director category of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School ‘Stuff it’ National Student Film Festival
  • lead actor in School musical ‘Into the Woods’

Fortunately, Blaise accepted an invitation to perform at today’s flag raising ceremony and we were able to witness his talents firsthand.


Convergence Festival – Bellingen Turtlefest

Developed by local volunteer, Ben Perrim, Bellingen Turtlefest was hatched as a social enterprise to raise significant awareness and support in response to the sudden and unprecedented death of Bellinger River Snapping Turtles.

The festival was held in Bellingen over three days in October 2016 and included live music performances, an educational hub with interactive demonstrations, workshops, markets and a family friendly environment. 

Feedback from the event was artistically and visually amazing, diverse, engaging, educational and immensely enjoyable.

Lighting the Christ Tree (Bellingen Lions’ Club)

The Bellingen Lions Club fundraised, purchased and installed LED lights onto the 41.3m tall Norfolk Pine in the grounds of St Margaret’s Anglican Church, Bellingen.

The lights were officially turned on, on the evening of Thursday, December 15 with the combined churches of Bellingen leading community carol singing around the tree and the Sohum Women’s Choir entertaining the crowd with their acapella tunes.

The event was offered as a dropping off point for Christmas presents destined for low income families. The event enhanced the community’s experience of Christmas and also supported local business. 

It provided a truly local, community expression of Christmas spirit underpinned by the partnership of the Lions’ Club and the local churches.

Sgt Matthew Locke MG Rugby League Charity Match (accepted by Debbie Locke)

Sgt Matthew Locke MG was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2007. Since his death, a rugby league charity match has been run annually in his memory, between the Bellingen Magpies and the Australian Army Rugby Team.

Sgt Matthew Locke MG

Sgt Matthew Locke MG

The funds raised from the charity event go towards Legacy Australia and The Grub Club. 

The Grub Club, established by Debbie Locke, sister to Matthew, is a not-for-profit organisation set up to assist Afghan children from the Uruzgan Province to obtain an education through the supply of resources.

This event has become a vital part of the local rugby league calendar and has expanded to include a three-day event including a charity golf match and a concert with the Coffs Harbour Regional Brass Band. 

Sgt Matthew Locke MG Rugby League Charity Match.

Sgt Matthew Locke MG Rugby League Charity Match.

The Governor of NSW, General David Hurley and Mrs Hurley travel to Bellingen for the match along with close mate to Sgt Locke, Ben Roberts-Smith V.C.

Made in Dorrigo Street Market (accepted by Helen McDonald)

This event was the brainchild of the Dorrigo Chamber of Commerce and began in December 2011. 

It is a way of showcasing the talents of the residents of the Plateau, as well as introducing people to the businesses of Dorrigo.

Since the first Made in Dorrigo the picturesque township has successfully attracted more and more people every quarter to this Saturday event where visitors and locals get to see the town and meet the locals. 

Everything at the market is of high quality, lovingly and skillfully made by artists and artisans and is guaranteed to be grown, manufactured or produced in the 2453 postcode. 

This event has a great Facebook following and really reflects the ‘Made in Dorrigo’ philosophy.


Bellinger River & Neighbourhood Co-operative (Rose West and others accepting)

Known as BRANCH this group benefits the community by advocating on behalf of low income residents who are seeking secure affordable housing. 

BRANCH highlights the ongoing lack of such housing stock in the region and supports members to contribute to the management of the co-op, thereby developing skills, autonomy and a sense of local belonging.

Their goal and mission is for members to exercise control over their housing through participation in the management and the decision making processes of the co-operative.

Raleigh Hall Committee (president Ted Vaughan and others accepting)

The Raleigh Hall Committee is a dedicated group of volunteers who have spent many hours, days, weeks and months of their time to renovate and restore the Raleigh Community Hall to its former glory. 

They have applied for numerous grants to upgrade both the interior and exterior, making it aesthetically pleasing and functional for users. 

Raleigh Hall committee members: Ted Vaughan and Rae Jones.

Raleigh Hall committee members: Ted Vaughan and Rae Jones.

The Raleigh Community Hall has once again become a valuable asset to the community and is used extensively for weddings, meetings, parties. 

Raleigh Hall.

Raleigh Hall.

The group has created a Facebook page tracing the progress from the start of the restoration to the present and it is believed that there has been more than 2000 hours of voluntary work performed by the committee and friends to achieve the renovations.

Bellingen Lions’ Club (John Molloy and others accepting)

The Lions’ Club says, ‘Where’s there is a need, there is a Lion’ and that is certainly true in Bellingen where a group of dedicated people are always available to support other community groups, organisations and businesses.

Since 1954 the Bellingen Lions’ Club has contributed numerous projects including the first swimming pool, an ultrasound machine for the local hospital, first ‘sat navs’ for local ambulances (a first in NSW), annual fireworks displays, support for community nurses, schools and nursing homes.

They fundraise for worthwhile community causes and most recently installed the lights on the Norfolk Pine Christ tree at the Anglican Church for Christmas.


Norma Shaw

Norma is an outstanding community member serving on many committees throughout her life, being an active member of the Urunga Public and Bellingen High School P&C Committees for over 20 years. 

Following a family tragedy, Norma took on the responsibilities of running the family hardware business, Young & McRae, along with her husband, ensuring many local people were employed in the store.

When retired from the store Norma continued her busy volunteering activities with Meals on Wheels, The Anglican Op Shop, Legacy, War Widows as well as the Urunga Tourist Information Centre. 

Over the years Norma has often held Open Days showcasing her garden in aid of various charities.

Andrew (Andy) Livemore

Andy has made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the Bellingen community helping establish the Nexus Gallery where he has held the position of manager for the past eleven years.

Andrew (Andy) Livemore.

Andrew (Andy) Livemore.

This in itself demonstrates the confidence placed by the local and wider artistic community and the integrity in which he has executed his responsibilities and the vision which has informed all his endeavors.

Andy’s voluntary role is broad and includes opening and closing the gallery each and every day for 50 weeks of the year, co-ordinating and training the volunteers, organising monthly exhibitions and displaying the artwork, and administrative tasks.

Additionally, Andy is also a creative digital photographer of note contributing regularly to exhibitions.  He also works with educational institutions and art specialists to identify and promote talent and bring it to the Shire.

Steve Allan

Steve has been a member of the Urunga/Mylestom Chamber of Commerce for over twenty years and president for 11 years. 

Steve is well known in the Urunga community having owned the local pharmacy for 25 years and is an inspiration to all Urunga residents having been involved with organizing events such as Carols Urunga and developing the Urunga Food and Wine Festival into what was known as ‘Toast Urunga’.

Steve Allan.

Steve Allan.

Steve is involved in children’s activities and sporting clubs and has served on the Care Hostel Committee.  He speaks to the aged at the Neighbourhood Centre and various other venues giving advice on ageing and wellness. 

He is passionate about the sustainability of Urunga and has total commitment to his community.


Luke Beaumont

After playing rugby league at a junior level with the Bellingen/Dorrigo RLFC, Luke moved on to play with the Coffs Harbour Comets in 2013. 

Luke Beaumont was the highest Point Scorer, Best Local Product and Best and Fairest with Coach Troy Robinson, 2016.

Luke Beaumont was the highest Point Scorer, Best Local Product and Best and Fairest with Coach Troy Robinson, 2016.

Despite being under 18, he was part of the grand final winning side in 2014 and was forging his rugby league career. 

With the local Bellingen/Dorrigo Club struggling to field teams, Luke made the selfless decision to return to his home club to help out. 

Since his return, Luke has been the club’s highest point scorer, Player of the Year and represented in the combined Group 2 side each year. 

Luke has been a role model for his peers and has made an outstanding contribution to the continuation of the club.


Ben Perrim

Ben has been a tireless worker and volunteer in the Bellingen community for many years. 

His volunteering positions include mentoring and committee membership of the youth festival ‘Local MADE’, committee member for the Bellingen Jazz Festival from 2007 to 2014 as well as being a member of the Dawnsong Children’s Centre Committee. 

Ben Perrim.

Ben Perrim.

However Ben is best known as co-creator of the popular Bellingen River Festival and most recently the creator of the Turtlefest 2016 (Convergence Festival).

Marie Steele

Marie is an outstanding member of the Dorrigo and Bellingen Shire community, volunteering her time with a number of organisations. 

Her contributions and achievements include vice-president of the Dorrigo Showground Trust, life member and committee member of the Dorrigo Guy Fawkes Agricultural Association, involvement with the Deervale CWA, Hickory House Management Committee, the Dorrigo Historical Society and the Dorrigo Showground Trust.

Ann Phelan

Ann is the music teacher at Bellingen High School and puts her heart and soul into making music. Since arriving in Bellingen, Anne has established four different ensembles, competed extensively, provided musical accompaniment at assemblies, agricultural shows and eisteddfords, mentored young people and generally raised the profile of music and musicians throughout the region.

Ann Phelan.

Ann Phelan.