Community Recognition Award Winners

Published on 23 May 2024

Winners Shadows_colour.jpg

The hugely deserving winners announced at the Community Recognition Awards event were: Margaret Leeson, Russi Sturzaker, Chloe Foster and Kayden Cooper, Dane Febey and Maxine Cunningham. 

Burnie's community heroes were recognised at a celebratory event on Wednesday night, 22 May 2024, hosted by Burnie City Council in the Town Hall at Burnie Arts.

In the words of Mayor Teeny Brumby: "Tonight is a celebration of excellence, dedication, and the incredible contributions made by each one of you.

"But whether you're here as a nominee, a family member, a supporter, or a member of our community, your presence adds immeasurable value to this occasion, so thank you for being with us.

"To our nominees, I want to extend my sincerest congratulations to each of you. Your individual stories inspire us, remind us of the power of community, and encourage us all to continue our efforts in making the City of Burnie a place that we are all proud to call home. You are the driving force behind the positive change we see in our community, and we are immensely proud to honour you tonight.

"To the families and loved ones of our nominees, thank you for being here to share in this special moment. Your support, encouragement, and understanding have played an integral role in the success of our nominees, and we are grateful for everything you do.

"There were many of you that were nominated for tonight’s achievements which is an incredible insight into the passion and love our people have for their community.  While tonight is to honour our Award recipients, we have taken the liberty of showcasing all the nominees on posters around the room.  Please take the time to review the nominees and if you get the opportunity, congratulate them for their efforts and achievement.

"As Burnie’s number one supporter of our great community of volunteers, let me say to our volunteers, whether nominated tonight or not, that your service in volunteering is the very essence of community spirit. It is the act of giving without expecting anything in return, of seeing a need and stepping up to fulfil it, and of making our world a better place through small, everyday actions. In Burnie, we are fortunate to have a rich tapestry of volunteers who embody these values and more, and I thank you all.

"Together, we are here to celebrate the spirit of teamwork, the pursuit of excellence, and the power of community. Tonight, let us not only recognise individual achievements but also acknowledge the collective effort that has brought us to this moment."

Citizen of the Year - Maxine Cunningham

Maxine Cunningham.jpg

Citizen of the Year Maxine Cunningham and Mayor Teeny Brumby

Maxine Cunningham is the 2024 Citizen of the Year, which is a title bestowed upon an individual who epitomises the essence of civic responsibility, community engagement, and exemplary leadership.

This year in August, Maxine will have accomplished 40 years as a crossing guard on the Coast.  Maxine started at Somerset Primary and when that school closed, was at Montello Primary for a term before ending up at Marist / Stella Maris where she has remained over the last 10 years or so. Maxine clearly loves her job and that is evident in how conscientious she is with attention to the role of crossing guard and the passion she holds for the safety of everyone which is appreciated by many. She exhibits a great love of the students and the deep seated respect the students show in return, is evident to all.

Years ago, she was an active volunteer with meals on wheels and previously worked in the Burnie High School canteen and book sales for many years.

She is very respected by students, parents and motorists, of whom appreciate the way she enables smooth traffic flow, in what is an incredibly busy school crossing. Maxine is famous for knowing each student by name, with a remarkable ability to memorise all whom cross by her path. She ensures each pedestrian feels ‘known’, worthy and indeed a valued member of the extended school community. Thank you and congratulations Maxine.

Young Citizen of the Year - Russi Sturzaker

Russi Sturzaker.jpg

Young Citizen of the Year Russi Sturzaker and Deputy Mayor Giovanna Simpson

This title recognises a remarkable individual who, despite their age, demonstrates exceptional dedication, leadership, community spirit, and who serves as an inspiring role model for their peers and the community at large.

Russi is a shining example of the potential and promise of our next generation. Through his selfless actions, innovative ideas, and tireless efforts, he make a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of others and contribute to the betterment of our community.

In the words of Mayor Teeny Brumby: "Thank you for being an inspiration to your peers and future leaders.  At nearly 16 years-of-age, you have shown your ability to take on challenges with ease and pride and when you put your mind to something, you give it your all.  Russi is the co-president of Parklands High School and also Burnie’s Youth Mayor for 2024.

"I have now witnessed on several occasions Russi chairing the Burnie City Youth Council meetings. It is inspiring to see the way he has promptly adjusted to this significant leadership position, beautifully maneuvering the young council through a vast array of decision made in their council meetings. 

Russi has big dreams for his future and last year was accepted into the Cricket Tas program. We wish you all the best with your life long dream of playing with the Australian Cricket Team, sounds to me like your well on the way!"

Senior Citizen of the Year - Margaret Leeson

Margaret Leeson.jpg

Senior Citizen of the Year Margaret Leeson and Mayor Teeny Brumby

The Senior Citizen of the Year award is a tribute to an individual who exemplifies a lifetime of dedication, wisdom and service to their community. Marg is someone who has immersed themselves into the community for well over 50 years and provided invaluable experience through many community groups over the years.

Marg immersed herself in the Burnie community since arriving 60 years ago, from Brisbane, where she had an upbringing in Cub Leadership, Sunday School teaching and other community activities, and was an inaugural Rotary Youth Leadership Awardee in 1960.

She resumed Cub (Scout) leadership in Burnie for some years, and then became involved in the Burnie Musical Society for 10 years, including a role as Wardrobe Mistress (Manager), designing and making hundreds of outfits for shows. Her volunteering work continued when she was invited to join the Burnie Ten Committee in 1999, a role she maintained for 20 years.

Marg was an inaugural volunteer, in 1999, at Burnie’s Tasmanian Visitor Information Network centre, a role she maintained until its closure in 2020. She also volunteered on several Burnie committees involving the Olympic Torch Relay, Targa Tasmania and the Australian Masters Games. In 1989, she was awarded the Rotary Club of Somerset’s first Certificate of Appreciation, for 10 years’ service as a volunteer to the club.

Marg has, for more than a decade, also been a member of the Burnie Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a member of the Burnie Tourism Association for several years from inception until closure, and was 2016 and 2017 president of Soroptimist International Burnie. She was the first female member of the Burnie Club.

In early 2000, Marg, together with husband Allan, voluntarily recruited, trained and established a pool of cruise ship coach tour guides for Burnie, under the auspices of the Burnie City Council, to enhance the visitor experience. She has also represented, in a professional capacity, cruise ship travel providers as pier manager and coach tour guide during ship visits.

In 2007, Marg was awarded a Burnie City Council “Volunteer Legend” Award for 10,000 hours’ service to the community.

Marg has also been a member of the Burnie Regional Museum Friends and Burnie’s Regional Arts Gallery Friends and is currently a member of Probus.

In 2016, she was awarded an Order of Australia, for service to Burnie.

Marg’s professional background during an early working life was in banking and finance, real estate property management, tele-marketing research and executive re-location. She and husband Allan have three children, Iain (Sydney), Craig (Hong Kong and Portugal) and Karen (Melbourne), and in 2024 celebrated 60 years’ marriage.

Thank you Marg for your committed, passionate, and unwavering contribution over the years to our community. Congratulations Margaret! 

Event of the Year - SeaFM's Fire on the Foreshore


Councillor Chris Lynch and Chloe Foster who accepted the award on behalf of SeaFM

This title represents a culmination of a vision, meticulous planning, dedication, and teamwork, resulting in a truly remarkable occasion that has left a lasting impact on our community, bringing people together, inspiring positive change, and creating unforgettable memories.

This award not only honours the organisers and participants but also celebrates the collective spirit and resilience of their teams from within our community. By recognising the Event of the Year, we pay tribute to the visionaries, volunteers, and supporters who have worked tirelessly to assist in creating an event that transcends boundaries, sparks joy, and leaves a legacy of inspiration for years to come.

We thank the SeaFM team for you tireless work and pulling together a wonderful event that despite some challenges a few weeks prior to the event, saw you rise to the occasion and provide an event that changed the way traditional fireworks were displayed.  Chloe and the team should be immensely proud of yourselves and the bold move towards sustainability and introducing a quieter and safer celebration for both humans and our beloved pets.

We know that the sacrifice made by yourself and committed staff went well beyond what you had ever anticipated. Thanks to you and your committed team, Burnie was able to celebrate New Years Eve together once again. With over 10,000 community members coming out to support the event we were able to re-live the memorable celebratory atmosphere that we’ve all come to know and love.


Volunteer of the Year - Dane Febey

Dane Febey.jpg

Volunteer of the Year Dane Febey and Mayor Teeny Brumby

The Volunteer of the Year is a prestigious recognition bestowed upon an individual who demonstrates the spirit of selflessness, dedication, and service to others. This award recipient has been described as reliable, dedicated and a huge amount of fun.

Dane is a shining example of the power of compassion, generosity, and empathy to transform lives and create positive change. Through his selfless acts of kindness, leadership, and advocacy, he has touched the hearts and lives of countless individuals, leaving a legacy of hope, empowerment, and resilience.

Thank you Dane in particular for your commitment to Parkrun, showing up every Saturday as Race Director enabling our City to experience perhaps the most phenomenal community Park Run in Australia!

Park run participants that are visiting from other parts of Tassie or from interstate regularly comment that it is the ‘friendliest Park Run’ they have been to. Through his leadership Dane has created that welcoming and friendly culture. In addition, there is a lot involved behind the scenes and his commitment to making sure everyone has fun and doing his homework weekly to acknowledge any milestones is a true testament to his community spirit.

Dane has transitioned from being an accomplished sportsman to a committed, enthusiastic, and passionate volunteer. This award recognises not only the achievements of the past twelve months but a lifetime of volunteerism.

Dane has always been prepared to give a little more, whether as a player on the field or an athlete in professional events. Over the years, he has volunteered at Burnie 10 and served on many sporting committees. He has had a long involvement in a local football club, including time as President.

While a group of 140 volunteers has contributed to an event that promotes positive health and wellbeing outcomes for the Burnie community, engaging 40,177 participants since 2018, Dane stands out—a beacon every Saturday morning at the Burnie Waterfront.

It is not unusual for him to sacrifice sleep after night shifts, so he can do what he loves—sending 200 to 300 athletes off on a walk, run, or stroll to Cooee and back. Out of 291 Parkrun events, Dane has volunteered 266 times and, after providing a humorous and cheeky speech at the start of each event, he has participated in 132 events himself, where he is heard providing positive reinforcement to the participants on the out-and-back course.

As Mayor Teeny Brumby commented: "Having been a participant myself, I fully understand why Dane has been nominated for this award. I have seen this ‘super’ man in action—a huge accomplishment for a Bombers supporter."


Recognising our longest serving Volunteers

There are so many people in our city who give of their own time, and effort, to make our city great, and to ensure that people have experiences in Burnie unlike anything else in the State.

We are so very fortunate and grateful to all of our volunteers, whether they are cleaning up our streets, working in our parks and reserves, working to conserve our museum collection or operate our Pioneer Village Federation Street, or meeting and greeting our visitors to Burnie from cruise ships, your efforts never cease to amaze.

As Mayor Teeny Brumby said: "In particular, I want to take an opportunity to celebrate a number of our volunteers who have achieved considerable milestones in their volunteering efforts.  Some Burnie City Council volunteers have been undertaking their tireless efforts for 10 years, 15 years and would you believe 20 years!"

Celebrating 10 years of volunteering

Volunteers 10 years.jpg

Recognised for 10 years of volunteer service were: Christine Crawshaw, Eleanor Austin, Pamela Thorne, Robert Haslock, Christopher Banks and Inge Kelty (Inge pictured with Mayor Brumby below). Absent were: Suzanne Hennessy, Michale Muruste and Kerry Saward.  

Inge Kelty.jpg


Celebrating 15 years of volunteering

Volunteers 15 years.jpg

Recognised for 15 years of volunteer service were: Jane Rudd, Helena McLean, Trixie Duncan, Allan Leeson and Margaret Leeson. 

Celebrating 20 years of volunteering

Maggie Harris was recognised for 20 years of service as a volunteer but was not able to attend last night's event. Well done Maggie. 




Burnie City Councillors who attended the Community Recognition Awards Event were Cr Amina Keygan, Mayor Teeny Brumby, Cr Trent Aitken, Cr Chris Lynch, Deputy Mayor Giovanna Simpson and Cr Justin Grave. 



Tagged as: