New citizens welcomed, award winners honoured at ceremony

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A crowd of over 300 gathered in the Lighthouse Theatre this evening as Warrnambool welcomed its new Australian Citizens while the winners of the 2024 Warrnambool Citizen of the Year Awards were also recognised.

29 people from countries such as South Africa, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, France, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand and Afghanistan decided to take the pledge and become Australian citizens.

And as a community, it was also an opportunity to come together and officially thank the winners of the Citizen of the Year Awards:

Citizen of the Year: Tom Richardson
Young Citizen of the Year: Courtney Mathew
Community Event of the Year: The F Project's Fabric of Life Festival
Local Achiever Award: Ailiche Goddard-Clegg

“I’m really pleased to be able to share in the excitement of a group of people who are beginning their journey as Australian citizens while officially recognising another group who are shining examples of everything a good citizen should aspire to be,” Warrnambool Mayor Cr Ben Blain said.

“After welcoming our new citizens and hearing from our award winners, I’m just filled with a huge sense of pride to be part of this community.”

Citizen of the Year Tom Richardson said that he was honoured by the recognition.

“This is really humbling and I see it as a monumental win for creativity and for community,” he said.

“Every single week I’m lucky enough to partner with hundreds and hundreds of people in Warrnambool who are showing up every day to make sure that the lives of everyone in our community are a little bit more vibrant, a little bit more safe. 

“It takes 300 people to put the Find Your Voice Choir on stage and it’s fast becoming my life’s work and I really want to honour and celebrate with co-founder Kylie Thulborn.

“They’re going to take over the world. We’ve got artists and a choir who are going to change the face of the planet.

“I really want to thank all of the Council men and women who stood behind the creative arts and said ‘we see the value in doing this, we see what it brings to the community’ and while it might not be necessary for life, it’s the stuff that makes life worth living.”