Ceduna citizens rewarded for community focus

The Ceduna District Council has announced its winners for the 2021 Australia Day awards.

Una Connellan was named Citizen of the Year and Kayla Gurney the Young Citizen of the Year, with the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel's New Year's Eve 'Fireworks by the Sea' the Event of the Year.

Mrs Connellan was recognised for her efforts with the Ceduna Hospital and Village Auxiliary, plus with the Flair on Eyre Craft Shop and Ceduna Uniting Church Op Shop.

As part of the auxiliary's fundraising efforts to upgrade rooms at the Ceduna Senior Citizens Village, Mrs Connellan began a massive sewing undertaking to create microwave bowl holders, oven mitts and potholders.

Her first donation in March 2017 was $100. By September it had risen to $1010 and by November 2020 the number climbed to $9473.

Items are sold at Flair on Eyre and its annual Craft Fair, plus through auxiliary fundraisers.

A "humbled" Mrs Connellan said it was passion that kept her going.

"I do what I do because I have a passion and love for it," she said.

"I love helping people at the op shop and with the hospital auxiliary our goal is to get the units finished for people to have lovely rooms to get to."

The idea to raise money through sewing came from a desire to "do something different" for the auxiliary and Mrs Connellan said the Ceduna community should be thanked for their support.

"I sew for four hours every day and it keeps me going in the craft shop," she said.

"I don't outlay money, people give me materials and I thank them for that.

"I never thought it would get this big but I never think of not going on with it now. I've made about 1500 microwave holders - I think I can make them with my eyes shut."

Ms Gurney has been an active member of the community, from employment at Foodland to being a member of the Army cadets.

She was a member of the student representative council at Ceduna Area School in 2020 and went from Operation Flinders participant to mentor.

She said it was a shock to be named the winner.

"I enjoy putting a smile on people's faces, otherwise I feel you've got to do what you have to do," she said.

Ms Gurney recently finished her Year 12 studies and plans to soon move to Adelaide to study forensic science at Flinders University.

In addition to her regular studies, she also studied online for subjects not offered by the school to help in her chosen field for university.

The hotel decided to host a New Year's Eve street party and fireworks display in 2019.

Rides and stall were established on the foreshore, with parts of O'Loughlin Terrace closed to traffic, for the community to enjoy the evening.

Hotel board member Darren Bennett said it was great to put on a night for the community.

"The award is unexpected and not what we set out to achieve. All the same, we felt it was an event we should have, and should have moving forward," he said.

"We are happy to receive the award for an event that the community enjoys."

Mr Bennett said the idea behind the event came about at the hotel on New Year's Eve in 2018 and a discussion about hosting a foreshore party and fireworks in Ceduna.

He was a main instigator of the event, assisted by Trevor Grenfell at the hotel and dedicated community members Jo Skinner and Pam Schlink.

Mr Bennett said they hoped to see the event continue for years to come.

"We felt it was something that could benefit the wider community, it was a family-fun environment and a platform to work from for years to come."

The event had to be cancelled last month due to COVID-19 restrictions which Mr Bennett said was "bitterly disappointing", but he said the aim was to host it at the end of this year.

The awards ceremony starts at 8am at the Ceduna Sailing Club lawns, followed by a free community breakfast.