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The 2020 Bay Islander of the Year winners were announced at an impressive event held at the Russell Island RSL Club on Australia Day.

The overall Australia Day Bay Islander of the Year is Shirley Bennett of Russell Island, with Neville Prosser of Macleay Island the senior Bay Islander of the Year, and Jessica-Rose Robinson (22) of Macleay Island the Young Bay Islander of the Year.

The awards were announced and presented by Cr Mark Edwards with support from State Member for Redlands Kim Richards, following an Australia Day address by Russell Island RSL president Chris Christmas.

Shirley Bennett received her award for involvement with the Russell Island Community Arts Group, particularly for her leadership during considerable expansion and progress over the past four years, resulting in major grants, building extensions and membership growth.

She said: “I never expected anything like this and it is wonderful for arts on the island.”

Senior Bay Islander of the Year Neville Prosser was similarly surprised.

He is the Commodore of the Tingira Boat Club and was the founder and still manages the annual famous Tingira Boat Club Canoe Classic, now in its 12th year.

“I am extremely proud to accept this on behalf of the members of the Tingira Boat Club, every one of them who is a volunteer,” Neville Prosser said.

The Junior Bay Islander of the Year, Jessica-Rose Robinson, could not attend the to accept her award because she is currently in Peru, South America, volunteering as a teacher of English.

Now 22 years of age, she has been involved with volunteering from a young age, previously visiting Rwanda in that capacity.

Her award was accepted by her proud mother and sister, Jenny and Perise Robinson.

Cr Mark Edwards and Kim Richards were full of praise for the winners, the awards, and all the island volunteers and helpers who were nominated and the many others who work every day for many island causes.

The awards are sponsored by The Friendly Bay Islander and Cr Mark Edwards. The presentation of the day was presented by Steve Morgan.

• Jenny and Perise Robinson for Jessica-Rose Robinson, Neville Prosser and Shirley Bennett with their Bay Islander of the Year Awards.