Passionate Douglas advocate awarded Citizen Of The Year



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Mayor Julia Leu presented Michael Gabour with the 2020 Douglas Shire’s Citizen of the Year. Image: Supplied.

Douglas Shire’s most outstanding citizens have been recognised at the 2020 Douglas Shire Australia Day Awards in Port Douglas on Sunday.

The day’s top honour, Citizen of the Year, went to founder of the Port Douglas Carnivale and passionate advocate for the region’s nature-based tourism industry, Michael Gabour.

The radio personality and entertainment champion has dedicated more than 30 years to developing and growing the local music industry.

Mayor Julia Leu commended Mr Gabour for his contributions to the Douglas Shire community.

“Michael has dedicated so much of his time to creating environments that nurture and support local musicians and entertainers,” she said.

“He spent 15 years as the ‘Voice of the Douglas Shire’ on Port FM, bringing local issues to the forefront and providing charities and environmental organisations with a platform to connect with the community.

“Michael passionately advocated for de-amalgamation, founding the group ‘Friends of the Douglas Shire’, which successfully led the charge to reclaim the Shire in 2013,” Mayor Leu said.

Following the 1989 pilot strikes, Michael supported the establishment of the Douglas Shire Tourism Association and was instrumental in the community-led campaign to garner support for tourism.

Recognised as one of the founders of the Port Douglas Carnivale, Gabour is credited with creating the iconic street parade showcasing hundreds of community groups and associations since its inception.

Mr Gabour said he was honoured by the win, aware of the great achievements of past winners and the other nominees.

“I realised that I had been nominated but was very surprised to win,” he said.

“I’m very humbled that people would even remember me after all these years.”

Young Citizen Of The Year

Seven other awards were handed out in Sunday including the Young Citizen Of The Year which went to teenager, Unity Beitzel.

Unity is an accomplished artist, successfully exhibiting her works in the Ergon Energy exhibition at the Tanks Art Centre in Cairns, where she was awarded the Peninsular Arts Educators Association Award.

She has been a member of her school’s concert and jazz bands and excels at sports, competing in the Australian Athletics Championships in Perth in 2019.

“Excelling academically, musically, and on the sporting field takes incredible commitment,” Mayor Leu said.

Civic Recognition Award

Caitlin O’Neil-Nulty was presented with the Civic Recognition Award.

Caitlin is an ambassador for the Great Barrier Reef Legacy where she participates in events, educates and spreads awareness about important issues.

As part of Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Clean Reef Project, Caitlin organised a beach clean-up at Cooya Beach and in 2019, she instigated the removal of single-use plastic straws from Mossman State High School.

Caitlin organised two successful climate action rallies in the Douglas Shire to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change.

Volunteer Of The Year

The Volunteer Of The Year award went to Stephen Hull, a volunteer instrumental in re-invigorating Port Douglas Basketball Club Inc, and successfully lobbied for an indoor basketball stadium for Port Douglas.

“He spends countless hours of his own time coaching junior players, refereeing games and providing leadership and guidance within the club as a committee member,” Mayor Leu said.

Arts & Cultural Award

Jill Chism was presented with the Arts and Cultural Award for her commitment to developing the local arts in the Douglas Shire.

Last year, she played a pivotal role in launching the inaugural Call of the Running Tide event, a 10-day environmental art festival in Port Douglas.

“Jill has worked tirelessly to support local artists, creating an exceptional event and grown the profile of the local arts in the Douglas Shire,” Mayor Leu said.

Environmental Achievement Award

Karen Renouf-Thomas received the Environmental Achievement Award for bringing the environmental and humanitarian project, Envision Hands, to Far North Queensland as FNQ Rotary Lids4Kids.

Envision Hands collects and recycles plastic bottle lids and turns them into prosthetic limbs for people in disadvantaged countries.

Until July 2019, Rockhampton was the northernmost of only three Queensland collection points but with support from Mossman Rotary, Karen organised collection points in Douglas.

“Karen is true eco-warrior having rescued tens of thousands of bottle lids from ending up in landfill or our oceans,” Mayor Leu said.

Senior Sports Award

Brad Cooper was honoured with the Senior Sports Award for his success as the Port Douglas Croc AFL Football Club Senior Coach, leading the team to their fourth consecutive premiership in 2019.

Not only is Brad a successful coach, but his ability to source employment opportunities for players and sponsorship is proof of his dedication to the club and community.

He brings out the best in young, local players with a high number of local juniors travelling up the ranks to play senior football.

Junior Sports Award

Gwyneth Dowell was awarded the Junior Sports award for her achievements in Judo, of which she is currently the Queensland State Champion for both the under 52kg Cadet Women and Open Weight Cadet Women, winning every regional competition that she has attended in 2019

She is the current Gold Medal Winner of the Queensland School’s competition and was invited to attend as an U57kg player at the Oceania Judo Championships in Perth against competitors from 84 countries.

She has just been selected as a member of the high-performance team for Judo Queensland for 2019-2020, gaining automatic selection into the Australian National Championships next year.

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