Mount Isa’s Unsung Heroes Recognised at 2021 Australia Day Awards

Published: 25th January 2021

Mount Isa community members came together today to celebrate and thank the recipients of the 2021 Mount Isa Australia Day Awards.

On behalf of Council, Mayor Danielle Slade warmly congratulated each and every award winner and nominee and thanked them for their outstanding and invaluable contributions.

“These unsung heroes have selflessly given so much to Mount Isa over the years and represent the best of the community,” Cr Slade said.

“The often-overlooked work they do helps to make the city such a great place in which to live.

“People often don’t realise just how many hours of their own time local volunteers devote to various groups, organisations and sporting clubs.

“We are all incredibly appreciative and thankful for what they do. These awards are the best way to shine the light of recognition onto these very deserving and exemplary community role models.”

The Citizen of the Year is Bob Jakeman, who for many years has tirelessly and faithfully worked for the Mount Isa Touch Association, Mount Isa Leichhardt Lions Club, Town Rugby League Club and the Mount Isa Golf Club.

Bob arrived in Mount Isa more than 45 years ago to play rugby league for the Town Leagues Club. Through his involvement as a player, committee member and builder of the club’s clubhouse, he was eventually named a Townies life member.

He still plays an integral role in keeping rugby league alive in Mount Isa and officiates rugby league games. He has also refereed, played and been a committee member of the Mount Isa Touch Association for many years, and helps keep their grounds in top condition.

He is now the president of the Mount Isa Golf Club and dedicates his time to improving the club’s facilities and course.

While now retired, during his years running his building business, Jakeman Constructions, Bob gave generously to many sports and associations in Mount Isa in both monetary form and valuable building advice. He truly is a valued member of the Mount Isa community.

The Senior Citizen of the Year is Shelley Howe. Shelley is a local woman who has qualifications in nursing, midwifery and child maternal health.

She has worked diligently in the local child health sector and Aged Care Assessment Team, providing support for seniors in the North West, and became the Mount Isa State High School nurse in 1999.

Shelley has worked tirelessly to ensure that local children and teenagers have the opportunity to support themselves in difficult situations.

She has been associated with Spinifex State College’s P&C for about 20 years and has been a rock within the community, supporting teachers, staff and parents. She is an exceptional person and an inspiration to us all for her selfless dedication for the betterment of others.

The Young Citizen of the Year is Darcy Ryder. Darcy Ryder graduated from Good Shepherd Catholic College in 2020.

In his final year, he received the Deus Caritas Est Award for Mount Isa. This award is presented by the Townsville Catholic diocese during Catholic Education Week to one student from every secondary school who, by words and actions, shows a love for God, others and self. He also received the Matthew Tarttelin award, Holly James Award and Caltex All Rounder.

Due to his excellent sporting achievements, he was also awarded the Senior Sportsperson Award for Good Shepherd Catholic College.

Darcy is an outstanding sportsman and a role model for younger children in our community. He has strong links to the Catholic Church and is a leader with the youth group.

He also cooks and serves for Jangawala kitchen, which feeds the homeless, and helps where he can in order to make a difference in people’s lives.

The recipient of the Junior Sports Award is Brock Philip. Brock has been a member of the Mount Isa community for more than six years. He is heavily involved with the Mount Isa Hockey Association in both the junior and senior ranks.

Despite his young age of 14, Brock has already taken on the role of mentoring fellow goalkeepers within the region. He not only plays in his Under-16 age group but has also stepped up into the senior men’s division.

Last year Brock was awarded the Mount Isa Hockey Junior Representative Player of the Year for his accomplishments across various regional and state teams.

Despite the year of COVID, Brock still represented his state in both the indoor and outdoor facets of the game and was a constant volunteer in the upkeep of the association.

With no volunteers in general for the 2020 season, without his help, things would not have happened throughout the year for local hockey players. He has definitely gone above and beyond for the betterment of the sport.

The recipient of the Senior Sports Award is Jerome Sopoaga. Jerome is the president of the Mount Isa Basketball Association, which is in itself a fulltime job and is done entirely on a volunteer basis, on top of his fulltime paid job.

On his days off he spends all of his time at the gym, repairing, looking for sponsors, buffing the floors and organising teams and games.

He also carries out training with senior and junior groups for basketball and volleyball, travels with junior and senior basketball teams to play games in Cloncurry, is helping out getting futsal back up and running in Mount Isa and runs referee workshops.

The Southern Gulf NRM Sarus Crane Award recipient is Paul Johnson. Paul is the president of the Mount Isa Landcare Group and is the treasurer of the Gregory River Landcare Group.

He has actively contributed to local environmental and heritage projects for many years and is a cornerstone of a number of local community groups, including Rotary.

The Arts and Culture Award recipient is Sally Prendergast. Sally has brought dance into the lives of hundreds of children and adults, but more importantly she has instilled self-esteem, self-love and a host of fundamental life skills into the hearts and minds of her students.

It’s difficult to overstate the confidence and passion Sally instils in her students and the importance of her sharing her passion for dance and the arts with them. She has also had a very successful and award-winning local dance business.

The Community Event of the Year is NAIDOC Week at the Mount Isa Recovery Service Centre at Spear Creek. Kaye Smith is the manager of the Recovery Service Centre and, over the past 18 months, she and her team have created a family-friendly community service.

The COVID-safe NAIDOC Week activities day was attended by 400 people in total and included a Welcome to Country, traditional dances, a visit by the Salvation Army helicopter, Young People Ahead boomerang painting, information stalls, Lead Alliance gardening activity, a Serenity House collaborative art piece, jumping castle and a kids’ corner.

The event received a lot of positive feedback and not only supported the wider community to connect, but further supported its live-in clients to positively engage with other groups and individuals.

The Spirit of Mount Isa Awards recipients are Sue Carson and Lorna Fisher.

Through her animal rescue organisation Paws Hoofs and Claws, Sue has been the driving force behind looking after mistreated and abandoned animals in Mount Isa for more than a decade.

Sue has worked tirelessly and been a vocal advocate for her cause. Thanks to her compassion and commitment, thousands of animals have found loving homes in Mount Isa and beyond.

Lorna moved to Mount Isa with her husband and children in 1985 and quickly became immersed in the local community. She is a proud Mount Isa resident and gives so much of her time, passion and genuine love to the community.

Lorna is heavily involved in the Good Shepherd Catholic Church. She has been passionately teaching religious education in multiple local schools for more than 30 years, volunteers a lot of her time through the Good Shepherd Parish, and plays a big role in organising the annual Multicultural Festival.

Lorna steps in at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church whenever Father Mick is away by supporting people in hospital and delivering Holy Communion to those who request it. She is a loving mum and grandmother, fulltime carer for her husband, and regularly looks after her four grandchildren.