CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Maurice and Hoske Conway.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Maurice and Hoske Conway. Jessica Dorey

Emerald recognises its heroes

THE SMELL of an Aussie barbie filled Emerald Town Hall as the community gathered to celebrate what makes Australia great.

Stories were shared over breakfast as preparations began for the presentation of Australia Day awards and a citizenship ceremony.

Thirty new Australian citizens were welcomed at the event from countries including South Africa, Ireland and Poland.

The spirit of the community also shone this year, with a remarkable 11 people nominated for Citizen of the Year.

The prestigious recognition was awarded to Maurice Conway.

Mr Conway has been an Emerald local for 18 years, is an avid volunteer and an integral part of the agriculture community in the region.

Mayor Kerry Hayes said Mr Conway had contributed greatly to the region.

"Maurice has played a pivotal role in shaping Central Queensland's cattle and cropping industries and is recognised as an agricultural expert by hundreds of farmers,” Cr Hayes said.

"His contributions help keep producers and farming families on the land, strengthening smaller communities and contributing tens of millions of dollars into the region each year.

"Maurice has also been an avid volunteer within the Emerald St Pats Parish, Marist College and wider CQ community.”

Mr Conway said he couldn't believe he'd won.

"I was thrilled to even be nominated,” he said. "I thought I was here to make up the numbers.

"There are so many deserving people in this community, so it is an honour to be recognised among them.”

Junior Citizen of the Year was awarded to five-year-old Karla.

The humble young lady was the highest fundraiser in Queensland for the 2016 MS Readathon. During the fundraiser, which spanned one term, she read more than 100 books and raised more than $1500.

Karla's mother, Tracey Gaylard, said getting involved in the fundraiser was Karla's idea.

"She told me that she wanted to help sick people feel better. It was her choice, we just supported her. I'm overwhelmed and inspired and I couldn't be more proud of her,” Mrs Gaylard said.

Quietly spoken Karla said she was proud to be recognised.

"I also love reading to my little sister,” she said.

The Cultural Award was presented to Jo Rosenblatt in recognition of her volunteer work and passion for dance.

Tori Rouse won the Junior Sports and Troy Paradies the Senior Sports awards.

Emerald Dance Eisteddfod was the Community Event of the Year.

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