Gladstone's community spirit shone at Australia Day awards
'BRAINSHOCKED' was the word Frank McKee used to describe how he felt at winning the Citizen of the Year award at the Gladstone Regional Council Australia Day Awards on Friday night.
The Builyan resident was among the many community volunteers honoured at the ceremony held at the Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre.
After the event Mr McKee said he was 'Flat out talking'.
"It must have been a surprise, because you don't often see me stuck for words," he said.
A crowd of 500 people attended the event to welcome the 52 newest Australians who made their citizenship pledge.
Mayor Matt Burnett and councillor's Peter Masters, Rick Hansen, Chris Trevor, Glenn Churchill and Natalia Muszkat were on hand to welcome them and give each a gift which included a native shrub, a special commemorative coin, an Australian flag and a GRC library bag.
Cr Masters said the contribution of people from many lands "has made our region richer."
State MP Glenn Butcher said it was a privilege to celebrate Gladstone's newest citizens.
"We are very honoured to have them here," he said.
"Although anyone from Sri Lanka will have a hard time choosing who to support in the cricket over the weekend."
Mr Butcher also praised the community's efforts during the recent bush fires.
"People in the region rallied magnificently, reflecting the national character of the Australian spirit shining through," he said.
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd thanked the many people who contributed to Gladstone, and Australia, as volunteers or members of the armed forces and emergency services.
Mr O'Dowd read a letter from the Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman outlining how Australia is the most successful multi-cultural society in the world.
Australia Day Ambassadors, Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam spoke of the values that unite Australians.
"We believe in the fair go, sticking together and the importance of community," Mrs Quilliam said.
"We live in a wonderful, free country."
The National Anthem was sung by Annamonet Massey who also sang a stirring rendition of 'I am Australian'.
After the ceremony, the eight Australia Day award recipients were named.
Citizen of the Year: Frank McKee
Young Citizen of the Year: Sidney Crawshaw
Arts and Culture Award: Christine Holden
Senior Sportsperson Award: Michael Ludkin
Young Sportsperson Award: Chyanne Downing
Community Event or Initiative Award: Boyne Tannum Turtleway Artscape
Community Volunteer Award: Ian Anderson
Mr Anderson was unable to attend the event as he was away doing what he had been recognised for; volunteering.
He accepted the award via a mobile phone link and apologised for not being present as he was busy monitoring turtles at Agnes Water.