COMMUNITY HONOUR: Lowood environmentalist Peter Bevan accepted the Citizen of the Year Award from Mayor Graeme Lehmann at the 2018 Somerset Regional Council Australia Day Awards.
COMMUNITY HONOUR: Lowood environmentalist Peter Bevan accepted the Citizen of the Year Award from Mayor Graeme Lehmann at the 2018 Somerset Regional Council Australia Day Awards. Contributed/Somerset Regional Co

Somerset Australia Day awards rejoice in community's success

HUNDREDS of Somerset residents packed into the civic centre in Esk on Australia Day morning to welcome their newest citizens and recognise those who have made significant contributions to their communities.

Seventeen new citizens were sworn in, hailing from countries including the United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and China, and Somerset Regional Council mayor Graeme Lehmann said judges had a difficult time deciding on the ultimate winners of the 2018 Somerset Australia Day Awards, with 16 nominations received between the six categories.

The Fernvale Youth Incorporated, formed after the 2011 floods to help Somerset youth engage with positively the community, was named Community Group of the Year.

The group encourages and provides strong leadership and is proactive in holding various events and community activities, including the annual Fernvale Car and Bike Show, music festivals, free barbecues and more, as well as assisting youth with resume writing, getting involved in other external community programs and support pathways.

"This group of dedicated individuals have combined their resources and passions to create something worthwhile and rewarding for Somerset youth to be involved in,” Cr Lehmann said.

Alexis Fitzgerald, was awarded the Australia Day Arts and Cultural Award for 2018, which recognises the outstanding commitment and dedication to arts and culture in Somerset.

Mrs Fitzgerald founded the Esk Community Choir in 1978 and through her continuous musical direction, the choir has grown to have more than 150 dedicated members.

Her nominees have described her commitment and enthusiasm as "unstoppable” and a trait that was embedded into her well before she started the choir group almost 40 years ago.

Mitchell Farlow took home the Sports Award for his achievements in rugby league while balancing full-time study at Toogoolawah High School, as well as his initiative, leadership and dedication in the community.

The 2017 Esk Garden and Lifestyle Fair earned the award for the Somerset Event of the Year with the organising committee behind the event, Valley of the Lakes Garden Club, accepting the accolade on Friday.

Last year the garden club put on such a successful event, that more than 3000 people from across Somerset, south east Queensland and interstate visited Esk for the showcase.

The event was inclusive and encouraged businesses throughout the region to participate and benefit from a large scale event being held in Somerset.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann congratulated the efforts of the Garden Club in organising the event and putting Esk on the map.

Stand-out residents Peter Bevan and Emily Heck were named as Somerset Citizen and Somerset Young Citizen of the Year, respectively.

Mr Bevan, a Lowood environmentalist, awarded the accolade for his commitment and initiative shown towards enhancing a section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail at Lowood by voluntarily undertaking enhancements to a 500 metre section of the trail with the planting of Australian natives sourced from his private hobby nursery.

Ms Heck was recognised for her contributions to the Esk Girl Guides, the Somerset Art Society Incorporated, Esk Community Choir, Esk RSL, volunteering for Meals on Wheels and at the Esk Show Society.

She was described by her nominees as an "inspiring young leader who is very community minded”.

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