Cowra Australia Day Award Winners 2022

Published on 26 January 2022


Cowra Mayor, Bill West was delighted to announce the winners of the Cowra Australia Day Awards today in a special live broadcast event from the Cowra Civic Centre.

“Alongside the challenges and hardships of the past two years, we’ve seen stand out examples of people stepping up to lend a hand when our community needed it the most. The nominees all deserve applause and gratitude, most especially our winners,” said Cr West.

Cowra 2022 Citizen of the Year has been awarded to Stephen Moriarty (pictured here with Cowra’s 2022 Australia Day Ambassador, Catriona Rowntree). 

“Stephen has been making a positive contribution to the Cowra community through his volunteer work with Cowra Community Transport for over 17 years. He has transported hundreds of clients both locally and interstate, providing comfort and support in times of need. It is this outstanding service that makes him a very worthy Citizen of the Year,” Cr West said.

The winners of the 2022 Australia Day Awards were revealed at a special presentation at the Cowra Civic Centre with Cowra’s 2022 Australia Day Ambassador, TV presenter, Catriona Rowntree.

The Citizen of the Year Award was one of a number of awards made today. The Cowra Eisteddfod Committee was named Community Group of the Year, Mikelli Garratt was named Young Citizen of the Year and Jennifer Thompson received the Dr Warren Whiley Memorial Award for Arts, Culture and Citizenship.

“We must congratulate all the nominees for their exceptional contribution to our community. Kindness and community leadership continues to shine bright in the Cowra Shire,” Cr West concluded.

Cowra Community Group of the Year - Cowra Eisteddfod Committee

The Cowra Eisteddfod has been running for 68 years, encouraging competitors from both across NSW and interstate in the performing arts.

Competitor ages range from three years to 70+ years, with a focus on skill development and competence in the disciplines of vocal, dance, instrumental and speech & drama. It provides rewards relevant to age and quality of performance, including substantial prizes and scholarships which are usually used to facilitate advanced and/or overseas studies.

The first Cowra Eisteddfod was held in November 1953 and there has only been one year, 2020, where there has been no Eisteddfod held in Cowra. This was due exclusively to health restrictions imposed at a state and nationwide level as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each Cowra Eisteddfod requires a full year of planning and preparation for the three to four week program to successfully come to fruition. All committee members participate in this important part of the process and are strictly volunteers. Organisational and technical advice is often sought from the Cowra Eisteddfod committee by other Eisteddfod representatives.

The Cowra Eisteddfod continues to bring 1000s of additional visitors to Cowra as a direct result of its program, creating a great stimulus for our local economy. Excellent publicity abounds for Cowra and the Shire, with shared comments online, in the media and on a face-to-face basis about the friendliness, great organisation and level of professionalism of the Eisteddfod. This positive feedback is further amplified about Cowra in general as performers and their families’ link with Cowra accommodation services, restaurants and cafes, tourist attractions and shopping, as well as our parks and gardens.

The Eisteddfod family of volunteers currently averages 85 to 110 individuals annually who make themselves available throughout the three to four weeks of each Eisteddfod. Active committee members constitute 10 to 15 of those volunteers. Many volunteers have been offering their services this way for decades.

Young Citizen of the Year - Mikelli Garratt

Mikelli's sense of citizenship, both at Cowra High School and in the wider community, is exemplary. She is energetic and reliable and often gives of herself for the benefit of others.

Mikelli's recent outstanding achievement was being elected as the School Captain of Cowra High School. Mikelli's school achievements leading to this accomplishment include being a long-time member and 2021 Vice-President of Cowra High School's Leadership Council, and a Peer Support leader in 2020.

As a sportsperson, Mikelli has achieved accolades at the highest level. She is a member of the under-19 AFL junior team of the Greater Western Sydney Giants and has attended the Western Region Academy of Sport, an elite academy for athletes, from 2017-2020.

In 2020, Mikelli was a Youth Ambassador for the Cowra International Festival of Understanding, representing Cowra High School. She was also a participant in the Lions Youth of the Year and the Young Leaders Conference for 2020.

Mikelli works in the community, both as a tennis coach and a lifeguard at Cowra Aquatic Centre, and was also a volunteer hockey umpire from 2018-2020.

Mikelli's interest in veterinary science saw her spend two months volunteering at Cowra Veterinary Centre, and as a member of the Save the Turtles Project in 2019, which involved meetings and fundraising events in-lieu of a hands-on conservation trip to Cairns, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.

In December, 2021, Mikelli took part in the World’s Greatest Shave and shaved her head in support of the Leukaemia Foundation, for whom she raised in excess of $2,500.

Mikelli is the very epitome of a role model. She is an all-rounder, achieving well in her academic studies and in sporting roles, and representing the school at the highest level in leadership.

Citizen of the Year - Stephen Moriarty

Born and raised in Cowra, Stephen worked at the Cowra Railway Station upon leaving school. A near fatal car accident resulted in the loss of his leg, but with his amazing strength and determination, along with the support of his wonderful family, Stephen entered back into the work force.

Stephen commenced work at Cowra Edgells in 1969 in the Pay Office, and then moved to the Warehouse where he ran the Transport Division for Edgells until 1988. With his family he embarked on a road trip and settled in McKay, Queensland for 16 years. Here he worked as a purchasing officer for various companies.

Health problems meant a return to his hometown and district of Cowra, where Stephen purchased acreage near Merriganowry.

Stephen wanted to help his community of Cowra and decided to become a volunteer driver for Cowra Community Transport. Stephen has been a volunteer driver for 17 years for the organisation, which operates from the Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre. Stephen has clocked up hundreds of hours driving people to hospital, medical appointments, and airports and assisting people that need to be driven both locally, and throughout NSW.

He is loved by clients for his infectious personality, humour and his great knowledge on a number of subjects. He has transported hundreds of clients, making every journey comfortable and safe. His capabilities to help anyone are humbling and to be admired. If there is a way to do something, he will work it out.

Cowra is lucky to have such an inspirational citizen, who bravely overcame the odds to live, work hard and raise a family and still continues to volunteer and drive for the Cowra community while working his small farm.

Dr Warren Whiley Memorial Award - Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer (Jenny) Thompson has been an integral part of Cowra's cultural landscape for almost 20 years. Professionally she has been involved with both the Cowra Ballet School and Cowra Dance Factory, specialising as the principal ballet teacher for both organisations. During this time she has used her skill and enthusiasm to successfully educate generations of young Cowra dancers.

However, to concentrate on Jenny's professional dance teaching alone would discount the wonderful contribution she has made voluntarily as a producer, director, performer and executive committee member of the Cowra Amateur Musical and Dramatic Society (M&D).

Jenny's involvement with the M&D began in 2005 when she agreed to be the co-choreographer of the musical 'Cabaret'. Just two years later she took her first on-stage role in the supporting cast of 'Fawlty Towers' a role she reprised in 2009. By 2010 she had graduated to leading roles and soon she had become one of the society's most versatile performers.

In 2011, Jenny began her leadership roles with the M&D as co-director of the play 'Dimboola'. This was the start of a very productive time for the society and Jenny went on to direct a number of major shows.

In 2017 Jenny was elected to the position of M&D president, a role she held for four consecutive years. In October 2021, Jenny was made a Life Member of the M&D for her contribution to amateur theatre in the Cowra community.

In addition to the wonderful service Jenny has provided to the Cowra M&D, she has also contributed to other community organisations including 15 years with the Cowra Regional Art Gallery Friends Committee (including four years as secretary), eight years with the Cowra Regional Art Gallery Advisory Committee, and two years with the Cowra Civic Centre Advisory Committee.

Jenny Thompson has been an asset to Cowra's cultural community in so many ways – as a professional dance teacher, an excellent actress, an able administrator, a skilled director, a versatile set and costume maker, a mentor for young performers and an enthusiastic supporter of the arts.




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