The annual Fraser Coast Ability Awards returned to the Brolga Theatre today to celebrate 2023’s inspiring athletes, vibrant leaders, innovative businesses, educators and selfless volunteers.
Cr Zane O’Keefe said he was blown away by the achievements of some of the incredible nominees.
“From gold medalists and international representatives in the sporting arena to tireless coaches and volunteers, the dedication of this community fills me with pride and amazement,” he said.
“A key focus for Council is creating connected, inclusive communities through our places, spaces and people, and that’s what these awards are all about.
“The awards shine the spotlight on those in our community who are providing inspiration, demonstrating leadership, offering mentorship and achieving results in their chosen fields.
“Celebrating these awards together at the Brolga Theatre is a highlight on the Fraser Coast community calendar highlight. A massive congratulations to all the nominees and award winners.”
Highlights of the ceremony included live music from Shaye Hamilton and a high-octane performance from the Hervey Bay Dance School.
The 2023 Fraser Coast Ability Award recipients are:
Ted Weber Individual Achievement Award – Emerald Wilmshurst
This year Emerald represented Australia at the Under 25 Women’s Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Thailand.
Regularly appearing on local news and media outlets, Emerald promotes Wheelchair Basketball as a sport of choice for people with physical impairments on the Fraser Coast, and her success is a great example to us all.
Young Community Spirit Award – Blake Sindel
Blake volunteers at Kirami Aged Care where he interacts with the residents, plays games, shares his school achievements and schoolwork, and ignites a positive outlook on life.
The residents look forward to Blake’s visits and enjoy their chats and banter.
Sport and Recreation Award – Dyshart Morgan
Dyshart is a competitive swimmer who has excelled at the national level.
Dyshart is currently ranked number one in the 50, 100, 200 and 400-metre freestyle, and the 50-metre breaststroke in the S19 classification.
Education Provider – Hervey Bay Special School
Hervey Bay Special School has a longstanding reputation of making significant contributions to the educational needs of students with disabilities.
Their unwavering dedication and holistic approach to education make them an invaluable asset in the lives of students and their families.
Community Spirit – Lachlan Kavanagh
Lachlan is full of encouragement no matter your story or ability. He has established a local group where many can come and play Boccia, socialise and feel a sense of belonging.
Lachlan passionately advocates for people with disabilities and a helping hand for those in need.
Community Organisation – My Hero Disability Services
My Hero Disability Services has made a profound impact in our community through its unwavering dedication to inclusivity and empowerment for individuals with disabilities.
With a variety of innovative programs and initiatives, they have cultivated a supportive and engaging environment, encouraging participation from all corners of the community.
Community Champion – Joshua Armstrong
A dedicated support worker who displays an extraordinary level of commitment and compassion, Joshua also conducts free inclusive cooking lessons at the Sea Breeze Café as well as being involved with a horse therapy program.
Employment Provider – Sea Breeze Café Hervey Bay
After successfully providing part-time paid employment for a young NDIS participant, giving him his first taste of paid work, the cafe now employs four individuals with disabilities, offering them more than just jobs, but a renewed sense of purpose and dignity.
They also provide work experience opportunities and free cooking classes.
Ability Awards Hall of Fame – Emerald Wilmshurst
Emerald Wilmshurst, a remarkable individual, is being inducted into the Fraser Coast Ability Awards Hall of Fame, specifically nominated for the Community Spirit Award, Sport and Recreation Award, Individual Achievement and the Young Community Spirit Award in years gone by.
Her personal achievements showcase her incredible dedication to helping others, always exuding care and bringing joy to those around her.
Article and photos submitted by the Fraser Coast Regional Council