Ambassador inspires at awards dinner

COMMUNITY pride filled the air at the Australia Day awards dinner on Friday night as the quiet achievers and those who have played prominent roles in different organisations were recognised.

The PCYC was packed with close to 300 people attending the function after a record 42 nominations for awards.

The Sing Australia Choir, conducted by Sr Helen Baguley, stirred the Aussie spirit with the national anthem, followed later by Botany Bay and the spine tingling I Am Australian.

The evening’s compere was Ray McCoy who introduced the Australia Day Ambassador, Michael Crossland and his wife Melissa, who were delighted to catch up with Michael’s former classmate, Glenn Swift and his wife Lydia.

An inspirational speaker, Michael Crossland said there was a time in his life when he did not have the choice if he was going to see another day.

“Being diagnosed with an incurable cancer and being told by doctors to simply go home and die – that is why I live each day to the fullest,” he said.

“Many people ask me my thoughts on what success is and to me success is not about the money we earn, the fancy cars we drive or the roof that is over our head – success is about waking up each and every day and having  a goal and a vision in our hearts to make a difference in some else’s life.

“As an individual, it is hard to change the way people view the world but if we all play our roles in making a difference, we can make this world a better place,” he said.

Gunnedah Mayor Owen Hasler acknowledged the many people in the shire who already follow Michael Crossland’s “guidelines for success” by making a difference in the lives of people around them every day.

Cr Hasler said it never ceases to amaze him how there are so many people who have been identified and recognised by their fellow citizens, as having given a huge amount of voluntary effort to assist other individuals and organisations in the community.

“I would like to say that all those who have been nominated are winners and this community is acknowledging your efforts at this function,” Cr Hasler said.

“All of us attending tonight are also ‘winners’ as we can see that there are so many people, not only this year but in preceding years, who are prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty and expectation to make this community a better place to live.”

Cr Hasler also outlined Michael Crossland’s amazing achievements in a life that was supposed to ebb away at a very young age.

“As an accomplished businessman, Australian of the Year finalist, Australia Day Ambassador, Camp Quality Ambassador and International Hall of Fame inductee, Michael Crossland’s life is a very inspiring story,” Cr Hasler said.

“In the past 12 months he has presented in front of more than 250,000 people around the world, signed a book deal, film producers have begun shooting a documentary about his life, and he was named the Canterbury Bulldogs’ ‘Secret Motivational Weapon’ on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and Rugby League Week.

“He was also featured on a TV show in Fiji, has his own online radio show in America and has just returned home from speaking to the victims and their families of the 9/11 attacks – this is his third consecutive year as an Australia Day Ambassador.” 

Every individual or organisation nominated for awards was called to the stage to receive a certificate of appreciation and have their citations read before the winners were announced.

Australia Day Committee chair, Cr Steve Smith, said that with so many outstanding candidates, the judges had a very difficult time choosing a winner in each category, especially the Young Citizen Award.

He also thanked staff at the Visitor Information Centre who had co-ordinated the awards and the staff and volunteers at the PCYC, who had served such a large crowd in a minimal time.

Award winners: Shirley Anderson (Citizen of the Year 40+), Tracy McIlveen (Citizen Award, 25-40 years),  Molly Lorimer (Young Citizen), Gunnedah Eisteddfod Society(Cultural Award), Mercy Associates and Friends (Community Achievement), Shirley and Allan George (Max and Mikie Maas Memorial Good Neighbour Award), Roger Reading (Ossie and Beryl Campbell Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award), Barb and Keith Constable (Eve Turner Perpetual Award).

The Australia Day cake was cut by Citizen of the Year, Shirley Anderson, assisted by Michael and Melissa Crossland, with the award for best decorated table, sponsored by the Gunnedah Hotel, going to the Mercy Associates and Friends.

WOOLWORTHS representative David Brown, left, presenting the official Australia Day Ambassador pin to Michael Crossland. Woolworths has sponsored the program for the past seven years.

WOOLWORTHS representative David Brown, left, presenting the official Australia Day Ambassador pin to Michael Crossland. Woolworths has sponsored the program for the past seven years.