The Slim Dusty Centre was the scene of the sixth annual Slim Dusty Community Mateship and Youth Awards, however, the first time the awards were presented at a gala dinner. More than 130 people attended and helped celebrate and acknowledge some of the key values supported by the Slim Dusty Foundation, in memory of Slim, including community, mateship, learning, fairness and family.
Two awards were presented on the night and they were awarded to two very worthwhile people. The recipient of the Community Mateship Award was David James from the Northern Territory. Keenly community minded, David is often called upon to help out family, neighbours and the broader community. He is a great believer in learning from the past and applying that knowledge to the future. Renowned for supporting the underdog, David has assisted many a needy mate into work opportunities, improving their lives. “I was absolutely stumped out for words. It was the last thing that I would have expected,” he said. David, 74, was unable to travel to the gala dinner due to bushfires threatening his and neighbouring stations. “Some of our country has paddocks that are 20km in and no road access. You just have to wait for the fire to come out. We have just sacrificed our paddock to save our neighbours’ paddock. It is what you do.”
David waited on the telephone and heard the announcement live that he was the Mateship winner. As he responded, his voice was clearly heard throughout the gallery and it was obvious to everyone in the crowd how moved he was. Following his win, David spoke of his admiration of Slim Dusty “If you asked someone on the street who the Prime Minister was, say eight years ago, or 30 years ago, most wouldn’t know. But if you asked who the King was, every Aussie knows that would be Slim Dusty. “He was the King when I was a boy, and he’s still King today.”
Melbourne’s Khurram Jahangir Khan won the Community Youth Award. Khurram, at 19 years of age, is largely involved in volunteering his time for the community, including helping senior citizens, young refugees and people with disabilities. He sees his community work as a tool to assist him when he obtains his goal of becoming a Doctor of Medicine. “I am highly pleased to say that it was an immense honour to arrive at Kempsey, and meet such beautiful, loving and generous people,” Khurram said. “I can never ever explain my excitement and heartfelt honour due to the award I have received. Also, at last, I got to know the song of Slim Dusty my grandma loves and it is ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and I love this song too. I am highly grateful for all things the Slim Dusty Foundation mates have done for me.” Khurram is completing a Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne. His acceptance speech at the gala dinner inspired all those who attended.
Kempsey man, Brian Irvine, who was one of the Finalists on the night added “Having events like this highlights the importance of the Slim Dusty Centre to our community and beyond. Last Friday night was a great success and the entertainment, food and presentation was very classy.”
Master of Ceremonies, Tania Kernaghan, entertained the crowd and shared the microphone with Anne Kirkpatrick, local talents Tommy Kennedy, Amos Morris and Slim’s own Travelling Country Band. “I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Awards on Friday night and it was particularly fitting that they were held at the superb Slim Dusty Centre. After having the opportunity to meet with the finalists and to chat with them about all they had achieved so far, each and every one of them, I believe are winners in their own right. I encourage everyone to support these Awards in the future, they are a reminder of how proud it makes you feel to be an Australian”.
Keynote speaker for Mates, Keith Thompson, from Thompson’s Transport, cleverly engaged the crowd with his humour and reflection on the famous trucking journey across the Nullarbor with Slim Dusty at the wheel. Representing Youth, keynote speaker Tom Burton, Director of Communications for the North Coast Institute of TAFE, was a positive advocate for improved futures for youth through education, and reinforced the progress being made under the MOU between TAFE and the Slim Dusty Centre as a workplace training facility.
Organisers would like to sincerely thank all the sponsors who supported the gala dinner and congratulate everyone that was nominated for an award.
Photo picturing: Anne Kirkpatrick, Joan Clarke (Slim Dusty Foundation Volunteer Co-ordinator), Sr Cabrini (Nominated for the Slim Dusty Community Mateship Award), Khurram Khan (Youth Award Winner), Tania Kernaghan (Master of Ceremonies) and Jason Peterson.