The Bellingen Shire's 2024 Community Awards

Published on 25 January 2024

Community Awards.jpeg

The Bellingen Shire's 2024 Community Awards unfolded in a community ceremony at the Bellingen Memorial Hall on Thursday 25 January. The evening's presenter was none other than our esteemed Senior Australian of the Year for 2020, Sue Maddox. As the founder and driving force behind OzGREEN, she skillfully assisted the Mayor Cr. Steve Allan in announcing the awards and flawlessly orchestrated a fully packed program for the evening. The evening, began with a Welcome to Country from Gumbaynggirr Elder Michael ‘Micklo’ Jarrett and an official Citizenship Ceremony hosted by Mayor Cr Steve Allan, followed by the Community Award which recognised outstanding contributions to the community.

The Community Awards Night is a celebration that acknowledges our local heroes who tirelessly work behind the scenes, fostering a connected, sustainable, and creative community in the Shire. Mayor Cr Allan expressed the sentiment, saying, "We present these awards to acknowledge those who work relentlessly to make our Shire a better place. We want the winners to understand that their efforts don’t go unnoticed and to express our gratitude to the people shaping our community."

The Bellingen Memorial Hall provided an ideal backdrop for the community to gather and celebrate these local heroes. The support from the community was evident in the strong turnout and numerous nominations, making the task of selecting winners no small feat.

Individual Category Winners and Nominees:

Citizen Of the Year Award

Nominees: Kellie Small,Mission: Rec Keys for Free Project, Kerry Pearse, Dorothy Alison Carter, Walter John Tyson

Winner: Walter John Tyson

Walter Jon Tyson, with 65 years of outstanding community service, claimed the Citizen of the Year Award. Walter's leadership and impact on organisations like the Urunga Anglers Club and Bellingen Lions Club are commendable, and at nearly 89, he continues to contribute actively. Dorothy Alison Carter received a Highly Commended for her tireless efforts in organising the Urunga Rail Centenary celebration and her commitment to community welfare and historical preservation.

Walter Tyson.jpeg

Cr. Jo Brotherton, Walter John Tyson, Mayor Cr Steve Allan, Sue Lennox

Dorothy Alice Carter - awards night.jpeg

Mayor Cr Steve Allan, Alice Carter

Young Citizen Of the Year Award

Nominees: Sam Daykin, Byron Willson-Baker, Tyson Shipman, Harley Gray, Teegan Smith, Pippa Hunt, Jasmine Francis,Evelyn Beaumont

Winner: Sam Daykin

Sam Daykin was recognised for his exemplary community contributions. His work with Ozgreen, revitalising community engagement at the North Bank Community Gardens and active participation in projects like YOUthspeak and Becoming U living libraries showcased his dedication to a sustainable future in the Shire.

Sam Dykin -Community Awards.jpeg

Cr. Jo Brotherton, Mayor Cr. Steve Allan, Sam Daykin, Sue Lennox (MC)

Home Grown Heroes Award

Nominees: Jack Mitchell & Max Sandstrom, Kye Ruigrok, Ann-Louise Chladil, Alison Carter

Winner: Jack Mitchell & Max Sandstrom

Jack Mitchell & Max Sandstrom emerged as this year's Home Grown Heroes. Responding to their friend Eden Buckingham's tragic suicide, they embarked on a remarkable 700km run, raising over $20,000 for Beyond Blue. Their resilience and commitment to youth mental health embody the spirit of true homegrown heroes. Kerrie Nicol received a Highly Commended for her selfless dedication to Bellingen Hospital and raising $7,000 by recycling patient water bottles for the United Hospital Auxiliary.

Sam and Jack homegrown hero awards night..jpeg

Sue Lennox (MC)Mayor Cr. Steve Allan, Cr. Jo Brotherton with Alanna Kidd & Sarah Bellum accepting the award on Jack & Max's behalf 


Sue Lennox (MC)Mayor Cr. Steve Allan, Kerrie Nicol Cr. Jo Brotherton

Sport and Recreation Award

Nominees: Riley Jon Humphreys, Zac Young, Caleb Daykin

Winners: Zac Young & Caleb Daykin

Caleb Daykin and Zac Young shared the spotlight this year. Caleb was honoured for his swimming achievements, while Zac received recognition for his dedication and achievements in Rugby Union and League. A Highly Commended was awarded to Riley Jon Humphreys for his outstanding achievements in cricket and AFL, becoming the youngest award winner at just 15 years old.

Sports & Rec award

Sue Lennox(MC), Mayor Cr. Steve Allan, Mat Young (Zac's brother accepting the award on his behalf)Caleb Daykin, Cr. Jo Brotherton

Riley Jon Humphreys sports award.jpeg

Sue Lennox (MC), Mayor Cr. Steve Allan, Riley Jon Humphreys  Cr. Jo Brotherton

Zac Young Sports Award

Zac Young with his award.

Rising Star Recognition Award

This new award aimed at acknowledging the work of the youth recognised nine programs under the YOUth Speak initiative.


  • Dorrigo Youth Night designed by Pippa, Evelyn, Jasmine, Zoe, Daniel This pitch saw a plan for an event for youth aimed at increasing connection and positive outcomes for the wider region.
  • Ramp Up designed Mat, Byron Willson, Rylan Tyson, Harley, Lacey, Jarvis, Ryan and Chase - A pitch to design and construct a new skatepark in Dorrigo including a bowl, ramps, jumps, seating and lighting. 
  • Mission Rec Keys for Free Project – Zac, Lincoln, Augus, John, Ryan, Eucla, Trey & Teegan - A project to ensure young people can access the Dorrigo Rec Facility with supervised hours
  • Sport Well-being Gala Day designed by Lacey, Brydi, Myra, Josephine, Hanna, Isabelle, Tully -A sports day that brings the community together and is a collaboration between Bellingen and Dorrigo High Schools.
  • The youth of today are the leaders of Tomorrow designed by Rani, Laurin, Amber & Sidney - A project to improve within the Bellingen Shire for young people and the broader community.
  • The Drug Education Project designed by Della, Harriet Halle - These workshops were funded and delivered to students and parents on Drug and alcohol awareness
  • Natural Highs November Project, offering weekend activities for youth
  • The Urunga Street Art Project reflecting a passion for project ownership and the history of street art. 


Mayor Cr Steve Allan extended his congratulations to all the winners and nominees, thanking them for their efforts in making the Shire a more special place. He emphasised the importance of community nominations in identifying those who truly deserve recognition.

The Shire's 2024 Community Awards highlight the remarkable individuals and groups shaping the Shire's vibrant and caring community. The nominations were contributed by the public, and the winners were selected by Shire Councillors, reflecting the collective appreciation for the unsung heroes amongst us.

Bellingen Shire Awards night Photos