Upper Hunter stalwart Helen Archibald major winner at Australia Day ceremony

AS Australia Day rolled around for another year, it was again time to celebrate those who give their all to support the community.

Whether they're highlighting the region's academic talent, giving residents someone to cheer on at a sporting event, acting as a role model for others or dedicating much of their personal time to charity work, these are the people that help keep the town running.

In the Upper Hunter Shire, the main ceremony was held in Scone, with the likes of council mayor Wayne Bedggood, state Hunter MP Michael Johnsen and Australia Day ambassador and Paralympic medallist Taylor Corry in attendance.

The major Citizen of the Year award went to Doing it for our Farmers' Pop up Pantry's Justine Cooper in Murrurundi, and the Junior Citizen of the Year for the shire went to Merriwa's Jackson Keane for his charity work and sporting efforts.

However, there were still plenty of things to clap for down the highway, with Scone having their own prizes to hand out.

For the Hunter McLoughlin Memorial Citizen of the Year award, the privilege went to long-serving community member Helen Archibald.

Unfortunately, the 89-year-old was unable to make it and was instead represented by her son James.

Across the years, Ms Archibald has been involved in the Scone Red Cross, saleyards, rodeo and church, although James said that's only scratching the surface.

"Most of the things she's done has been over her lifetime," he said.

"She's fundamentally tried to do her best with whatever she's been involved in... and she's enormously enjoyed contributing to the community that she loves."

While the new recipient of Scone's top honour is restricted in her ability to contribute heavily these days, she still takes a keen interest in the town and her children.

Her passion for the area goes beyond just one place however, having spent much of her life in Gundy.

Mr Archibald said his mother will be thrilled to have been acknowledged for all her hard work.

"It's totally unexpected but I'm hoping, because she's almost 90 now, that she'll live another ten years off of it," he quipped.

"To everyone in Scone, particularly her very good group of friends, I can only say thank you."

That same quote could be used to describe Katie Sutcliffe's feelings, after the St Joseph's High School student became the district's Young Citizen of the Year.

It was a great moment for the 15-year-old, who enjoyed a stellar 12 months which included being selected for the NSW Government Regional Task Force.

She took some time to speak to The Advocate about some of her accomplishments.

"I've been with the Scone Youth Council for four years, and with the taskforce I'm representing the Hunter," she said.

"Also with my cattle, I own the Murray Grey Stud... I was awarded the role of Murray Grey youth junior ambassador last year and that meant I got to go to South Australia and compete, and I won that age group which was very exciting."

Incredibly Katie stated she still had plenty of time for social life and didn't find juggling all of her commitments overly difficult.

Among the other major winners on the night were firefighter, archer and TransCare worker Garry Dawson who was dubbed Achiever of the Year; student and touch rugby league player Tyla Brown claimed Young Achiever of the Year; entrepreneur and taekwondo champion Cassie Fisher picked up an Outstanding Role Model award; former Scone High School (SHS) principal and Where There's a Will committee member Lindy Hunt received a special award for Ongoing Support with Youth; while SHS' Alexander Young and Scone Grammar School's Stella Norvill were given $1000 as part of their School Achievement Award; Matthew Kilroy (SHS) also received that funding for his Creative Arts Excellence Award.

That money, which was given by council, must now be put towards tertiary study in their chosen category.

Eighteen new citizens were also welcomed during the official ceremony.

One of the most memorable moments of the event was when Rural Fire Service members were called to the stage - to huge applause - and officially thanked for their efforts this fire season.

The work they have put in to keep the community safe has been extraordinary, but their sacrifices are most definitely appreciated.

Awards for Aberdeen will be released in another story.


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