Award recognises big hearted fundraiser

Cairns International Women's Day award recipients (from left) Rachel Broad (scholarship), Naomi Moke (People's Choice), and  Amy Cooper (Young Woman of the Year).

A passionate volunteer and fundraiser who uses pedal power to promote and acquire critical health services and equipment has been named the 2021 Cairns Woman of the Year.

Presented at today’s International Women’s Day Breakfast event at the Pullman International Cairns, Mary McGuiness was named recipient of the Woman of the Year award, which recognises outstanding achievement and contribution to the local community.

A midwife and birth suite nurse unit manager at Cairns Hospital, Ms McGuiness has been a volunteer with the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation since her first Cardiac Challenge charity cycle from Cairns to Cooktown in 2014.

Mayoress Claire Manning described Ms McGuiness as a determined woman, who had caught the cycling bug and now used that passion to promote and fundraise for important causes, particularly the Cardiac Challenge.

“Like so many people who have witnessed the Cardiac Challenge firsthand, Mary was swept up by the camaraderie of this annual event which raises vital funds to buy specialised equipment to improve cardiac care in the Far North,” Mrs Manning said.

“The Cardiac Challenge has a profound impact on people, not just through the funds and subsequent equipment it helps secure, but it also changes the lives of participants, supporters and volunteers.”

Ms McGuiness’ passion for the event has led to her taking on the role of a pack leader, responsible for monitoring riders and in constant contact with support vehicles to ensure the safety of participants.

As well as her involvement with the Cardiac Challenge, Ms McGuiness also volunteers with Meals on Wheels, is a member of She Spokes riding group, and is a fundraiser for the annual Ride for Isabel event, which raises awareness and funds for Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support (SANDS) Queensland.

Redlynch State College student Amy Cooper has been named Young Woman of the Year.

The 16-year-old Year 11 student has already competed at the Australian Judo Championships, participates in rowing, is a gifted singer and pianist who performs publicly, and is an award-winning writer. Amy is legally blind and reads and writes in Braille to reach her academic and musical achievements.

“Amy is a remarkable and determined young woman who shows that there are many pathways to success,” Ms Manning said.

“She is a school leader who demonstrates incredible courage and kindness – she is an inspiration to the whole school and our community.”

Woree State High School teacher Rachel Broad was named recipient of the $2000 scholarship.

“An active member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee at the school, she is a strong role model for young women, especially those from an Indigenous background,” Mrs Manning said.

“Through the use of sport, she has been able to inspire and encourage young women and nurture positive connections within the school and wider community.”

The scholarship will help Rachel expand the reach of her Girls’ Group, which she established at Woree State High School with the aim of helping young Indigenous women.

The group currently receives no funding. The scholarship will allow Rachel to purchase equipment and engage additional mentors to enhance the outcomes for participants.

Naomi Moke was named the winner of the People’s Choice award.

Award recipients

WOMAN OF THE YEAR – Mary McGuiness

Mary has been a volunteer with the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation since her first Cardiac Challenge in 2014. A midwife and birth suite nurse unit manager at Cairns Hospital, she continues to actively promote the Cardiac Challenge and in 2019 took on the added role of a pack leader. Mary also volunteers with Meals on Wheels, is a member of She Spokes riding group, and a fundraiser for the annual Ride for Isabel event.

YOUNG WOMAN OF THE YEAR – Amy Cooper

A Year 11 student at Redlynch State College, Amy constantly demonstrates that that a disability does not need to be a barrier to success. At just 16 she has already competed at the Australian Judo Championships, participates in rowing, is a gifted singer and pianist who performs publicly, and is an award-winning writer. Legally blind, Amy is also a school leader who demonstrates determination, courage and kindness – an inspiration to the whole school and the community.

SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT – Rachel Broad

Rachel is an active member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee at Woree State High School and has taken part in JCU’s Cairns South Community Champions program. The Woree teacher is a strong role model for young women, has been instrumental in running numerous Indigenous events, coaches AFL, and continues to nurture positive connections within the school and the community. The scholarship will assist Rachel expand the reach of her Girls’ Group, which she established at Woree State High School with the aim of helping young Indigenous women. The group currently receives no funding. The scholarship will allow Rachel to purchase equipment and engage additional mentors to enhance the outcomes for participants.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD – Naomi Moke

Naomi uses sport to deliver programs to promote better outcomes for children and young people. By collaborating with community services and athletes, she looks to engage with vulnerable young people and promote health and wellbeing. Notably, she has used netball and basketball to increase participation of women in sport.

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