Quote of the day:
"You won’t find the best flowers
Along a path everyone uses."
Pride of Australia Medal
The winners of the 2012 Pride of Australia National Medal were recently announced at an emotional and inspiring event in Sydney. Wow, great to see ordinary people being given recognition for good works. I recall some years back when Professor Fiona Woods became Australian of the year. Recall her? The professor who headed up the magical burns team after the Bali bombings. I'd have given her an award for having six kids, let alone for being a world leader in skin grafts. Go, Fiona!
What are the categories for this medal?
Outstanding bravery, courage, heroism, community spirit, child of courage, young leader, care and compassion, inspiration, environment and a fair go medal.
Who were the national medal winners in 2012?
Teenage brothers Daniel and William Clarke, who have raised over $650,000 towards saving the habitat of the orang-utan in Borneo and Sumatra, received thunderous applause when they were announced as the winners of the national Environment medal and the People's Choice Award brought to by Toyota Camry and Aurion.
Daniel, who has cerebral palsy and was inspired by Steve Irwin, says the pair will now continue towards their goal of raising one million dollars. The audience at the ceremony - which honours everyday people who do extraordinary things – was left in no doubt they will.
Another audience favourite was Georgina Kenaghan, winner of the Inspiration national medal. Georgina was presented with her award by Jenny Blow, one of the vision-impaired athletes she coached at the London Paralympics.
The family of Michael Wilson - a paramedic who was killed rescuing a canyoner earlier this year – was on hand to accept the National Heroism Medal and received a standing ovation. His wife Kellie said, "I am deeply, deeply touched by this honour - and I know that Michael would be too."
More than 190 people joined the celebrations at the Sheraton on the Park Hotel, including News Limited Group Director of Editorial Campbell Reid, Network Ten's Head of News and Current Affairs Anthony Flannery, and Toyota’s executive director of sales and marketing, Matthew Callachor.
The finalists were gathered from News Limited's network of metropolitan, regional and community newspapers throughout the year. They were nominated by friends, family and colleagues who believed they deserved national recognition for their outstanding achievements. The event was hosted by Network Ten's Sandra Sully and broadcast on ONE.
Highlights of the evening included a live performance from Australian singer Katie Noonan. Sandra Sully congratulated the winners whom she described as "remarkable people". "We are here to recognise the brave, the selfless, the generous, the compassionate and the courageous in our society," she said. "What you might call Australia's finest."
The winners were each awarded a unique gold Pride of Australia gold medal while the Clarke brothers also won $10,000 from People's Choice Award sponsors Toyota, who also donated another $10,000 to the brother's chosen charity – The Orang-utan Project Safeguard Program.
Thomas started the Enough is Enough WA, which now has more than 5,000 members. The 21 year old unselfishly postponed his university studies so he could focus on the creation of a website for the group. He has won the Human Spirit Award for his commitment to reducing road trauma, and was this year appointed the youngest member of the Victims of Crime Reference Group. Tom has presented at schools, organised demonstrations, fundraised for families and comforted those to overcome heartbreak and grief.
Legally blind youngster Cody Harris is credited with saving his family when fire engulfed their Townsville home in May. The ten-year-old – whose albinism has affected his sight – was woken by the smoke detector at about 5.30am. He alerted his two sisters and went looking for his younger brother David, 4, who was in a bedroom. Opening the door to a smoke-filled room, Cody found David curled in a corner and charged in to pull him to safety. He had earlier ordered his sisters to wake their mother who is hearing impaired. Cody and his twin Ebony, who suffers the same condition, have also received Child of Courage Awards from the local Lions clubs for rising above their disabilities at school and home.
Housewife Nicole Morris founded the Australian Missing Persons Register seven years ago – the country’s only national database. With no funding or assistance – and charging nothing - the mother of two works from her Crows Nest home to support the families of missing persons and maintain and update her register and Facebook pages with photos, sightings and clues. She has also assisted police Australia-wide in thousands of cases. Nicole is described as caring and compassionate by the numerous people who have sought her assistance. She has often hit the road to investigate leads, some of which have resulted in people being found. Her friendship and extraordinary support to those going through the pain of missing a loved one has landed her in the hearts of many.
Ryan didn’t hesitate to leap to the aid of an elderly woman when she fell onto train tracks at Box Hill Station in June this year. Ryan waved to try to get the attention of the driver of an oncoming train, refusing to abandon the woman he began lifting her up to others standing on the platform. Only when she was safely off the tracks did Ryan realise the train had stopped five metres from them.
Malwal Mywin is one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” who lived in an Egyptian refugee camp during Sudan’s barbaric civil war. He arrived in Australia in the year 2000 and now helps other young people overcome the challenges of their new life. Caring and compassionate Malwal is a youth development worker for Mission Australia’s Newly Arrived Youth Support Service in Toowoomba, which deals with the homeless or young people at risk of homelessness. Because of his strong Catholic faith – which taught him to forgive – and his ability to speak English, Dinka and Sudanese Arabic, he can bring people from various tribal backgrounds together to resolve their problems. Malwal also works with African, Middle Eastern and other migrants through Lifeline’s Men and Relationships program.
DANIEL AND WILLIAM CLARKE
Daniel Clarke suffers from cerebral palsy but it hasn’t stopped from him from striving to fulfil his dream of saving the natural habitat of the orang-utans of Borneo. His little brother William has joined Daniel on the crusade and have already raised $600,000 on the way to a goal of $1 million. They created their own book Tears In The Jungle, which is being used as a study resource in many NSW schools. They have lobbied politicians and appeared on TV programs. They are also working towards addressing the United Nations.
Dr John Vance
The gradual loss of vision – which brought his paediatric career to an early end – did not stop the Gold Coast’s Dr John Vance helping others. The “glass-half-full” retired doctor counselled people with retinitis pigmentosa from his home and trained them on the use of canes. John advised Queensland Rail on improvements to aid the visually impaired and successfully sought a Queensland Health grant to assist rural areas. John has been a valuable part of the Retinitis Pigmentosa Association of Queensland since 1989 and now, with his precious guide dog Vogue by his side, is on the board of Guide Dogs Queensland. He leads a full life, playing blind bowls, visiting old people in the nursing home and bringing a smile to the faces of those he meets.
Michael was a SCAT Paramedic who was called out to rescue an injured canyoner near Carrington Falls, south of Sydney. He was lowered into the canyon and secured the man in the basket before preparing himself and the man to be winched back to the helicopter. As they left the ground Michael and the basket were then thrown against the rocks violently. Michael placed himself between the basket and the rock wall, sustaining severe injuries. The man was lifted to safety but Michael could not be winched up. His line was cut and he died at the scene.
Having completed her degree at university, Georgina looked forward to a burgeoning career as a psychologist. But when she met six determined young women, all blind, who wished to represent their country, Georgina put her career on hold to coach the goalball team. Australia has not had a goalball team qualify in their own right for the Paralympic Games in 16 years. Georgina inspired the team to lift their world ranking from unranked to top 10 in just four years, qualifying for the 2012 London Games.
Vanessa lost her two children, Chase and Tyler, to carbon monoxide poisoning brought on by a faulty gas wall heater. Despite their own pain, Vanessa and ex-husband Scott have headed an awareness campaign to improve gas and fossil fuel safety for the Australian public. Determined to stop further deaths and suffering from something so preventable Vanessa has founded the Chase and Tyler Foundation, which aims to make servicing of all gas appliances and fitting of Carbon Monoxide alarms in all Australian buildings and homes mandatory.
Clancy's comment: go, guys! love ya work! - CT