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Hilltops Australia Day 2024 Awardees Announced

Ceremonies were held across the Hilltops region on Friday 26 January 2024 to celebrate
Australia Day and recognise the achievements of some very deserving Hilltops residents

2024 Australia Day Programs

Boorowa

Harden

Wombat

Young

Boorowa Ambassador - Mr Greg Donovan

Founder of Born to Run, Motivational Speaker

Greg was born in 1961 and is a long time Warringah resident living in Allambie where he built a home for his family in 1989. He is married to Raylene and has 3 grown children, Laura, Matt and Stephen.

Greg has always enjoyed endurance sports, and after racing motocross in his youth, changed to off road enduro riding, where he rode in the International Six Days Enduro earning a sliver medal, as well as participating in many Australian based enduro competitions.

He has participated in many types of endurance sports including long distance kayaking, running and cycling, with many events completed for fundraising.

Greg ran to keep fit for his motorcycle racing, and developed a passion for running, competing in many short events, with the dream of one day completing a marathon. After many problems in both his knees which were eventually fixed through surgery, he was finally able to run longer distances and completed many marathons with a best time of 2.49. He continues to be a regular marathon and ultra marathon runner, and has no plans of easing off. His favourite saying is “the race is not always to the swift but to those who keep running”

A highlight of his running career came in 2002 when he ran in the New York Marathon and raised over $150,000 for the education of children of his employer Aon, whose parents were killed in the World Trade Centre attacks of 2001.

In 2008 Greg’s son Stephen, who was 14 at the time, was diagnosed with both Type 1 diabetes and Coeliac disease at the same time, which was devastating to Stephen and his family.

Greg dedicated himself to doing something to raise funds to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes, and with his past experience in running and fundraising, in 2012 he founded the Born to Run Foundation to achieve this goal.

Greg put together a 5 person running team, dubbed Team Born to Run, which included himself and his oldest son Matthew. The team tackled the gruelling 4 deserts running series, which involves running 250km across each of 4 of the most forbidding deserts in the world, with the series finishing in Antarctica. The 4 deserts series is rated by Time Magazine alongside Tour de France and Dakar Rally as one of the top 10 most challenging endurance events on the planet. Only 11 people have managed to achieve this feat, and the 5 person Born to Run Team is the first team to complete the 4 Desert Grand Slam, and also contains both the youngest and oldest person to achieve this feat as well as the first father and son, the first couple and first type 1 diabetic. Greg says that by literally going to all ends of the earth to bring awareness and raise funds he hopes he can inspire others to do more to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Realising the life changing affects of running 250km across deserts Greg has introduced this form of running sport to Australia by establishing the Big Red Run, an annual week long running event based out of Birdsville in the Simpson Desert, allowing Australians the ability to enjoy this unique experience and raise funds for Type 1 diabetes research, as well as drawing in people from around the world to enjoy the Australian outback. In July 2013 Greg ran 250km in this event with his son Stephen who has Type 1, and this inaugural event in 2013 raised over $160,000 for Type 1 diabetes research, and after 6 years has now raised over $1.1m for JDRF.

Since then Greg has also founded the Anzac Day Challenge, a 100km Trail running event that in its first year in 2015 raised over $120,000 for Soldier On and Mates 4 Mates. He also founded Australia’s most remote music festival the Birdsville Big Red Bash, which in 2018 was headlined by John Farnham and saw over 9,000 people rocking the Simpson Desert, generating over $11m in tourism benefits for the many small outback towns surrounding the festival.

Australia Day Questionnaire

Why are you an Australia Day Ambassador?

For raising funds and awareness of Type one diabetes , founder of Born to Run Foundation and Big Red Run Australia’s only desert running race.

Who is your favourite Australian sing/band and favourite song, and why?

Cold Chisel – Working Class Man – Classically Australian!

If you could be a super hero, what power would you choose?

To be able to fly like a bird.

 

Harden Ambassador - Ms Promilla Gupta OAM

Premier’s 2018 Multicultural Regional Community Medal Winner

She is a Chef who specializes in vegetarian food.

She is also an Author of 2 cooking books, a Cooking Editor for Indian Newspaper, a community Radio Presenter, an Events Anchor, a tutor at WEA, a Tour Leader to India and runs her own business named ‘Promila’s Kitchen’.

She has won many awards like ‘SA Pride of Australia 2006’, ‘SA Senior Citizen of the Year 2007’, Finalist of Irene Krastev awards 2007, ‘Winner of Indian Cultural awards 2009’and ‘Winner of NSW Premiers Communities Awards 2018’. She was awarded OAM in the year 2020.

1983-2001-WHYALLA SA involved in many cultural activities like Whyalla Show, Chairperson of the Whyalla Migrant Resource Centre, raising funds of $21,000 for the Spastic Centers of SA, free cooking classes in many schools. Launch of her 2nd cooking book the City Council.

2002-2011-Adelaide SA:-

  • On the Board of Multi-cultural South Australia Ethnic Commission and held that position from 2007 to 2009.
  • President of Indian Australian Association SA during 2007-09.
  • Chairperson for ‘SARGAM an Indian Musical Association’ during 2006 to 2010.
  • Ambassador for Education Adelaide in 2011 for International students.
  • Ambassador for Oz Asia Festival in 2011. Oz Asia is the largest festival held in South Australia
  • Teamed up with Salvation Army and volunteered to cook for about 120 homeless people once each month.
  • Producer/ actor of a short film ‘Five Spices’ on multi-culturalism.
  • Run a Hindi language school
  • Radio Presenter – E.B.I. 103.1 FM Hindi
  • Cooking Editor of newspaper ‘The Indian Down Under’
  • Teaching Indian cooking at the WEA. Tour Leader for many group to India

2012-Newcastle NSW: She was the President of the Indian Association of Newcastle Inc. from 2015 to 2018. Coordinator for senior citizens of Indian Communities. She was the ‘Winner of NSW Premiers Communities Award 2018’.She was nominated to act as Ambassador of ‘Australia Day 2019’ celebrations at Barraba NSW’. She was awarded OAM in 2020.

She is mainly focused now on the mentoring and advisory roles.

Young Ambassador - Mr. Peter Cousens AM

Actor / Singer

Peter Cousens, is the Artistic Director of the Talent Development Project and in 2019 was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to the performing arts and to the community.

A graduate of National Institute of Dramatic Art, he played the role of The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera on London’s West End for 11 months and has had an extensive career playing major roles in plays and musicals throughout Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

His musical theatre roles include over 1500 performances as Marius in Les Miserables; and 2000 as Raoul in the Australian production of The Phantom Of The Opera; over 500 performances as Chris in Miss Saigon for which he won Variety Heart Award for Best Performer. His other performances include roles in The Mikado, The Fiddler on the Roof, Boojum, Bernstein’s Mass, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Show Boat, Darlinghurst Nights, Strange Bedfellows, The Hatpin, Company, Aspects of Love, Floyd Collins in Concert and recently Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

He has worked extensively with Australia’s major performing arts companies starring in Nicholas Nickleby, Hamlet, Chicago, Chinchilla, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, You Never Can Tell, Whose Life is it Anyhow?, The Convicts Opera, Breaker Morant, Camille, The Sentimental Bloke; And on Australian television, including, The Divorce, Cliffy, Phryne Fisher, Return to Eden, The Sullivans, Carson’s Law, Cop Shop, Skyways, The Young Doctors, Son and Daughters, The Timeless Land and Under Capricorn.

He has recorded five albums – Corner of The Sky, From A Distance, A Life on Earth, A Musical Christmas, The Peter Cousens Collection and he sings the role of Chris on the International Symphonic Recording of Miss Saigon.

Peter directed the feature film “Freedom”, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and William Sadler in the USA and is the Director and Co – writer of the feature film Where Is Daniel? about the abduction of Daniel Morcombe. He wrote and directed the short film The Right Path, a survival story about the life of Mick Miller and also Victoriana! – a vaudeville delight.

Peter is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at Central Queensland and an Ambassador for Freedom Hub – Rebuilding the lives of people who have experienced human trafficking and slavery within Australian borders.