Local Journalist and drought crisis advocate, Belinda-Jane Davis has been announced as Maitland’s 2018 Citizen of the Year.
In 2018 Belinda-Jane, who lives on a farming property near Hinton, wrote stories of people on the land in a unique way to contribute to building a strong, supportive community around local farmers.
Her work at the Maitland Mercury also involves making connections with local groups such as Slow Food Hunter Valley and in 2018 she supported the Earth Markets.
Representatives from Maitland Council said her stories have galvanised the community in supporting their local farmers and thereby helped to ensure that Maitland is food secure. Her work in this area has highlighted the diversity that exists locally and has helped in the development of the artisanal producer and farmer, which will develop as a major economic and tourism asset to the people of Maitland.
In 2018 she also won a Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism for her drought campaign The Big Dry, which is a tribute to her view that it is her obligation as a journalist to bring the drought to the forefront of our minds.
Maitland Mayor, Cr Loretta Baker said the Maitland Citizen of the Year accolade is designed to celebrate those individuals who enrich the community through their commitment and service to others.
“Belinda-Jane has truly embodied that, especially in 2018 and she is a wonderful choice,” Loretta said.
“Her work with the rural community is something to be applauded and I know it has meant a great deal to a lot of people.”
The Young Citizen of the Year was 15-year-old Kelci Brain, who has been a member of St John Ambulance (NSW) – Maitland Cadet Division for over four years. Kelci has climbed the ranks as a cadet, completed over 800 volunteer hours with the organisation and plans to study to become a qualified paramedic on the completion of high school.
“We are very fortunate to have so many talented and community minded young people like Kelci in our city,” Loretta said.
“Hearing of her efforts and commitment makes me incredibly proud.”
Along with the two award recipients, it was also a special day for over 30 people who became Australian citizens as part of the Citizenship Ceremony.
IMAGE | Kelci Brain, Mayor Loretta Baker and Belinda-Jane Davis.
The Maitland Local Government Area (LGA) covers an area of 396km2 in the Lower Hunter region of New South Wales.
Maitland is the focus of a diversity of economic activities including agriculture, tourism, mining, manufacturing, transport and construction industries. Arguably Maitland’s greatest asset is its location on the rich alluvial flats of the Hunter and Paterson Rivers. It is one of the most highly productive areas in NSW and a service centre for a rich agricultural hinterland.