2024 Clarence Valley Citizens of the Year Winners Announced

Published on 25 January 2024

Citizen of the Year nominees

The outstanding contributions of citizens and community groups were officially recognised at the 2024 Clarence Valley Citizens of the Year Awards in Yamba on 25 January.

A total of 37 nominations were received across the four categories for this year’s awards, held at Yamba Bowlo Sports and Leisure.

Prior to the awards, 17 new Australian citizens were naturalised in a ceremony hosted by event ambassador, Mayor Peter Johnstone.

Mayor Peter Johnstone was joined by NSW Member for Clarence Richie Williams onto welcome the new citizens and present the awards.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Smith, Cr Karen Toms, Cr Allison Whaites, Cr Steve Pickering, Cr Greg Clancy and Clarence Valley Council General Manager Laura Black were among the other dignitaries present on the day.

2024 Citizen of the Year - Aneika Kapeen

The CEO of Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation was recognised for the extensive amount of valuable work she has done for the Clarence Valley community over the last decade.

Ms Kapeen stands as an inspirational role model, embodying a spectrum of contributions, encompassing educational empowerment, cultural preservation, and artistic expression. Her leadership approach, marked by inclusivity and unwavering dedication, becomes a source of inspiration.Her capacity to instigate positive change not only serves as a guiding light for others but also motivates community members to actively participate in enhancing both their personal lives and the well-being of those in their surroundings.


Other nominees were: Allan Woods, Claire Aman, Justin James, Kaitlyn-Maree Robertson, Mark Blackadder, Philip Hirst, Rex Green, Sally Anne Rogers, Sue Boyle, Tom Lavery, Vicki Marsh, Zak Masters.


2024 Young Citizen of the Year - Aidan Really

Aidan developed a passion for fundraising for cancer patients two years ago after losing his father to cancer. From his personal experience, he understands the cost incurred by patients for treatment regularly, visiting oncology sites, and travelling out of the district for pet scans and radiation treatment.

All money raised is distributed by the nurses in the oncology ward in the way of petrol, gift or food vouchers which has gone on to assist dozens of patients going through treatment.


Other nominees were Kaitlyn-Maree Robertson, Madeleine Schroder, Scott Wright, and Tom Lavery.


2024 Local Hero - Sally Anne Rogers

Sally welcomes school kids, college students, NDIS, people who are interested in a career with companion animals and the wider community, to learn about the importance of responsible pet ownership.

Sally continues to build a pathway for the future based on the needs of the animals and the community, continually upgrading skills and resources, so new programs can be put in place.


Other nominees: Carolyn Williams- O'Shea, Holly Weston, Janet Johnston, John Pullinger, Lloyd Fernance, Ursula Tunks.


2024 Community Achievement - Westpac Rescue Helicopter Support Group - Grafton Volunteer Support Group

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service - Grafton Volunteer Support Group has been hosting events and raising funds for the helicopter service since 2012.

In that time the support group has raised over $134,000 through an annual Helicopter High Tea, Barefoot Bowls Days and Bunnings Barbecues. As well as this, the group has assisted other organisations raising funds for the Rescue Helicopter such as the Grafton Sporting Car Club.

The group comprises around 15 active members. Some of the Support Group members have been volunteering for the Helicopter Service for 26 years and most have volunteered for over 10 years.


Other nominees were: Grafton City Juniors, Gurehlgam Corporation, Happy Paws Haven Inc, ICOPE, Lions Club of Maclean, Maclean Food Bank, Maclean Food Hub, Southampton RFB, Surf Camp Downunder, Team Aidan, Warm Touch.


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