Two of the three Kingborough residents nominated for a 2021 Tasmanian Australian of the Year award were named winners of their respective categories on Friday, October 30.
Edna Pennicott of Kingborough Helping Hands (KHH) has been awarded the Tasmanian Australia’s Local Hero award and Brian Williams was recognised as Tasmania’s Senior Australian of the Year categories, the pair being lauded for their contributions to the community.
Edna Pennicott – Tasmanian Australia’s Local Hero
Mrs Pennicott has dedicated over half of her life to assisting vulnerable members of the community.
Addressing the audience at the Tasmanian Awards ceremony, Mrs Pennicott said she accepted the award on behalf of “every man, woman and child that helps make Helping Hands the successful little charity it has become”.
“The truth is that there is not one hero here today, but every person that’s helped Helping Hands is a hero,” Mrs Pennicott said.
Mrs Pennicott explained how forty years ago her charity started with her leaving small things on people’s doorsteps with a Christmas message.
“I’d seen children that suffered and who didn’t get anything for Christmas, and some were really struggling, and I’d been through a couple of hardships myself,” Mrs Pennicott said.
“I just thought if everybody could do one little thing for someone, one act of kindness, what a difference in the world we could make.”
KHH delivers support to those who have fallen on hard times and Mrs Pennicott personally delivers many of these packages herself, as well as collecting donations and goods.
At Christmas, Mrs Pennicott organises the packing and delivery of around 250 hampers and 300 children’s presents for families in need.
Through KHH, Mrs Pennicott also supports several local women’s shelters, providing household essentials, furniture and clothes for women and children who are fleeing domestic violence.
Mrs Pennicott also operates Loui’s Van, an after-hours mobile van service that offers hot food and support to people who are sleeping rough.
The majority of KHH’s programs are community-funded and Mrs Pennicott is the driving force behind all fundraising activities.
As well as being awarded an Order of Australia medal for her work in this year’s Queens Birthday Honours List, Mrs Pennicott recently received an inaugural Aurora Energy Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of 40 years of dedicated service to the most vulnerable members of the community.
Mrs Pennicott said that she hoped her award would inspire people to think more about those less fortunate than themselves.
Brian Williams – Tasmania’s Senior Australian of the Year
Having been involved with the scouting movement for more than 50 years and group leader for Blackman’s Bay Scouts for 29 years, Mr Williams remarked on the rewards of seeing the positive outcomes scouting can have on the lives of those involved.
Mr Williams said it felt like “getting an award for having fun”.
“One of the emphases is leadership, giving kids leadership skills, as well as giving them the skills to be able to go out there and be part of the community,” Mr Williams said.
“Scouting gives children a life perspective that they don’t get at school or in homes where parents are under pressure and don’t have as much time to spend with their children.
“I’ve seen Joey scouts come in at age six and then go on to become Venturers and receive a Queen’s Scout Award, presented by Tasmania’s Governor at Government House.”
Since 1983, Mr Williams has been on the state training team, where he has trained and nurtured more than 100 leaders in the Venturer Scout Section, ensuring the ongoing success of the organisation.
Under Mr Williams’ leadership, the Blackmans Bay Scout Group has become one of the largest and most successful in Tasmania and he has also contributed on a state level.
Mr Williams organised the inaugural Australian Venture in Launceston, bringing together young people from around Australia and overseas for 12 days of fun and activities.
Due to the success of this event, the state been invited to run several additional national events.
Mr Williams is also deputy chair on the committee for A Day on The Beach, a local Australia Day celebration of Australian life and culture, facilitating the scout’s involvement with the event.
The awards ceremony was held last Friday at the Hobart Town Hall, with Premier of Tasmania, the Honourable Peter Gutwein MP and Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency, Professor, the Honourable Kate Warner AC co-hosting the event.
The winner of the Tasmanian Australian of the Year was Grace Tame for her work advocating on the behalf of sexual assault survivors through the #letherspeak campaign.
Toby Thorpe of Huonville was awarded the Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year for his contributions to youth empowerment and climate action.
Mr Thorpe, who is Executive Director of the Climate Justice Initiative, said that his award was recognition of “all the young people around the country… who want to make a difference.”
Mr Thorpe said that his award was about not about him being heard but his generation being heard.
“Climate change is not an environmental issue, it is not a political issue, it is an issue about people,” Mr Thorpe expressed.
“Never underestimate the power that we all have together to make a difference in our community.”
Mr Thorpe thanked his teacher Nel Smit, who received a Senior Australian of the Year nomination, and principal Geoff Williamson for encouraging and supporting his climate change activism six years ago at Huonville High School; a journey which has taken him all the way to the United Nations.
Nel Smit was nominated under the Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year category for her passionate commitment to education and sustainability.
Senator for Tasmania, the Honourable Catryna Bilyk, attended the awards and was able to congratulate the winners in person.
“As Patron of Kingborough Helping Hands I have been working with Edna Pennicott for a number of years and admiring her commitment to helping others,” Senator Bilyk said.
“I know she doesn’t like to be in the spotlight and she quite rightly thanked those who support her charity, but she deserves all the recognition she gets for starting this local movement and for leading and inspiring others to join it.”
Senator Bilyk has also been a guest at several Blackmans Bay Scout Group Annual General Meetings and said that the success of the group was a testament to Brian Williams’s leadership.
“Scouting is Australia’s largest youth development movement and, through his decades-long involvement, Mr Williams has had a huge transformative effect on the lives of so many children, many of whom as adults have also grown to be effective leaders,” Senator Bilyk said.
Premier Gutwein offered his congratulations to the “amazing Tasmanian” winners.
All four winners epitomise what it means to be Tasmanian and I’m looking forward to January when they’ll be considered against the rest of the nation’s Australians of the year, representing our great state on the national stage,” said Premier Gutwein.
All four Tasmanian winners will now be considered for the national Australian of the Year awards in their respective categories.
There are 128 nominees being considered from all states and territories, with winners to be announced on January 25, 2021.
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au
Pictured above: Tasmanian Australian of the Year Grace Tame, Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year Brian Williams, Tasmanian Australia’s Local Hero Edna Pennicott and Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year Toby Thorpe were all recognised for the contributions to the community on Friday, October 30. (PS)
Pictured above: Founder of Kingborough Helping Hands, Edna Pennicott has dedicated over half of her life to assisting vulnerable members of the community and was awarded the Tasmanian Australia’s Local Hero award on Friday, October 30. Mrs Pennicott said that she hoped her award would inspire people to think more about those less fortunate than themselves. (PS)
Pictured above: Brian Williams was announced as Tasmania’s Senior Australian of the Year on Friday, October 30 for his contributions to the scouting movement. Under Mr Williams’ leadership, the Blackmans Bay Scout Group has become one of the largest and most successful in Tasmania. (PS)