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A LOCAL volunteer who has dedicated more than 20 years to helping people beat blood cancer is the Douglas Shire’s 2023 Citizen of the Year.

Miallo resident Kerry Shepherdson, who also received an Honoured Member Award for the Leukemia Foundation in Brisbane last year, was one of the founding members of the Mossman District Leukemia Foundation in 1999.

Kerry is currently serving as Secretary for The Mossman Hospital Friends of the Foundation, the Mossman District Branch of the Leukaemia Foundation, and the Syndicate/Whyanbeel Rural Fire Brigade.

She was celebrated in front of a large crowd at the Australia Day Awards Ceremony at the Port Douglas Community Hall today.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said Kerry displayed tremendous dedication to the region.

“Kerry is a quiet achiever who has volunteered for numerous organisations over many years,” he said.

“To this day, she works tirelessly for every organisation she is involved with and ensures everything runs smoothly.”

“Kerry truly is one of our unsung heroes. She always gives more than 100% to each organisation she’s involved with to ensure they achieve its vision and mission.”

Kerry Shepherdson

Citizen of the Year

Kerry was also a member of the Kindergarten Committee that was responsible for building the first kindergarten near Foxton Bridge. She was one of nine award recipients who were recognised today. Other award recipients include:

Other award winners include:

  • Junior Sports – Lewis Marano
  • Senior Sports – Greg Mill
  • Environmental Achievement – Emily Silverstone
  • Arts and Culture – Emily Oorthuysen
  • Volunteer of the Year – Gail Cockburn
  • Young Citizen of the Year – Gwyneth Dowell
  • Senior Citizen of the Year – Ellen Ross
  • Civic Recognition Award –Michelle Vladich

Mayor Kerr said every nominee should be proud of their work.

“To have your name put forward by your peers is an achievement in itself and every nominee should be congratulated,” he said.

“I am so pleased for all of our award recipients, from young judo star Gwyneth Dowell, who achieved academic excellence in her final year of school, to local hockey pioneer Greg Mills, we are very lucky to have so much talent in the Douglas Shire.”

Gail Cockburn

Volunteer of the Year

Gail is an extremely hard-working volunteer archivist for the Douglas Shire Historical Society. She spent many hours setting up a database for all the artefacts which is now accessible to via the Society’s website.

Gail is meticulous in picking up any tiny discrepancies and the Society is extremely proud of her incredible efforts.

Gail has served the Douglas Shire Community as a volunteer over many years.

Emily Oorthuvsen

Arts & Culture Award

A recent Mossman State High School graduate, Emily is an accomplished artist who successfully displayed a wide range of exhibitions in the Far North. She was awarded prizes for her work, including first prize at the Young Archie’s Exhibition for portraiture. Emily was also privately commissioned to complete drawings and murals, and she has already sold pieces of her art. She is a remarkably talented young person.

Emily Silverstone

Environmental Achievement Award

Emily has been an active member of Rainforest Rescue for more than six years. She has organised and participated in tree planting activities and represented Rainforest Rescue at many events.

In her personal time, she has participated in beach clean-ups organised by various environmental groups, and heads down to the beach on her own to pick up rubbish.

Her love for the rainforest and reef is second to none, inspiring her to become an Australian citizen two years ago.

Lewis Marano

Junior Sports Award

Lewis is a football champion who won the golden boot and most valuable player at a soccer carnival attended by more than 500 participants. From Douglas, he represented Cairns in Townsville and won the Crad Evans Cup with his team. Along with his soccer achievements, Lewis has also made representative teams in cross country, touch football, athletics, and futsal.

Greg Mill

Senior Sports Awards

Local hockey pioneer Greg Mill has worked tirelessly to promote hockey as a sport in Douglas Shire. Since the club started in 2019, Greg has increased its membership numbers to 160 and organised the first beach hockey tournament on Four Mile Beach – the first of its kind in the country. He has coached local kids and has a strong passion for hockey.

Gwyneth Dowell

Young Citizen of the Year

Gwyneth is a talented dancer and national judo competitor who also achieved academic excellence during her time at Mossman State High School. Before graduating in 2022, Gwyneth received a staggering 24 subject awards during her six years of secondary school. She is also a talented dancer with Bodies in Motion having sat dance exams at a very high level.  Gwyneth is an exceptional young person who has achieved remarkable success and conducts herself with dignity and grace

Ellen Ross

Senior Citizen of the Year

Ellen is a volunteer rural fire fighter who has been with the Wonga Beach brigade since 2007. She has a heavy vehicle licence which allowed her to drive the fire truck and attend many call outs up until 2021. To this day, she still puts her hand up if there are no drivers for call outs. Ellen managed the renovation of the old fire shed into an office, and the 50th Anniversary of the Wonga Beach Rural Fire Brigade in June 2022.

Ellen’s current role includes Community Volunteer Education Officer where she oversees the safety and wellbeing of her fellow volunteers, making sure their PPE is up to date and they are well-equipped working out in the field.

Michelle Vladich

Civic Recognition Award

Michelle is an outstanding member of the community who has volunteered for Queensland Ambulance Service since 2005. The local Ambulance Committee raises money for extra equipment and miscellaneous items for the service.

Michelle inspires the group to achieve. The latest equipment she helped get was a raiser chair which will help paramedics get people off the ground.

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