28 December 2023

'Natty' knitter, Bahn Mi queen among Griffith Citizen of the Year 2024 nominees

| Oliver Jacques
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Beryl Paul seat and knitting

Beryl Paul has knitted for charity for decades. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Eighty-year-old Beryl Paul has spent decades knitting garments for the Fred Hollows Foundation charity without ever wanting or receiving recognition.

But on 21 December, she found an unusual looking letter in her mailbox from Griffith City Council.

“I was knitting hand towels to sell at Leeton’s markets for the foundation when this letter arrived,” she said.

“It said I was nominated for Griffith Citizen of the Year. I thought it was a bit silly and it was certainly a surprise.”

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A chance meeting in the late 1970s with Fred Hollows, the eye surgeon who launched the charity, changed Mrs Paul’s life.

“He told me that doing nothing is not an option,” Ms Paul said.

Since then, she’s spent countless hours every week making garments that she sells at markets to raise money so the foundation can restore sight to people in developing countries.

She is also part of a Griffith group called the ‘natty knitters’, who make blankets that are sent to war zones.

“We are here for a reason – to help others,” she said.

Griffith City Council has announced its nominees for the Australia Day Awards, which recognise outstanding community contributions and excellence in sports.

Nine others have been nominated for the top honour of Citizen of the Year, including home-based chef Paris Floyd, newly elected community radio 2MIA president Jay Reynolds, housing advocate Sophie Bozic, veteran musician Pat Sergi, Salami-making king Ferruccio Fattore, cancer support advocate Grant Hearn and perennial volunteers Brian and Dot Peisley (together) and Dot O’Callaghan.

Paris Floyd in front of her book shelf

Paris Floyd often gives her delicious food away from free. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Ms Floyd is a refugee from Laos who has been making Vietnamese and Laotian food from her home, which she sells and also donates to various charities. Her home has been the only place in town residents can get a Bahn Mi, a crusty French-Vietnamese baguette filled with meat, vegetables and her own special spicy sauce.

“When council called to notify me about the news, I was very surprised,” she said.

“I care about the community and do everything from the heart. I don’t expect anything in return so to be nominated for this award meant that I had touched someone and made a difference to their lives. I’m deeply honoured to be acknowledged.”

Ironically, her recognition has come as she is packing up to leave town.

“I’ve fallen in love with the community and it was very hard to make the decision to move away. Griffith will always have a piece of my heart,” she said.

Grant Hearn raises funds for the Cancer Council, alongside wife Denise. The couple’s long-time advocacy helped contribute to the opening of a radiation therapy centre in Griffith earlier this year.

Further information on all nominees will be provided at an Australia Day Awards and citizenship ceremony at 10 am on 26 January 2024 at the Griffith Regional Theatre, when winners for each category will be announced.


𝐂𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Jay Reynolds
Sophie Bozic
Paris Floyd
Beryl Paul
Pat Sergi
Ferruccio Fattore
Grant Hearn
Brian and Dot Peisley
Dot O’Callaghan

𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐫 𝐂𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Madisyn Sarkis
Griffith Youth Advisory Group

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𝐄𝐧𝐯𝐢𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Ema Munro

𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐣𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Marrambidya Dance Group
Griffith Meals on Wheels Seniors Expo
Griffith ”Takes Two” Series 5
Share the Dignity PATL (Pad & Tampon Ladies) Griffith
Combined Schools Band & Griffith East Public School Band

𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Taine Moraschi
Johanna Munro
Jack Evans

𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐫 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Tomasi Caqusau
Timeeka Coleman
Nate Mingay
Lily Mathews
Ben Williment
Rose Turner
Reese Vidler
Mackenzie Hassan
Ata Junior Misi
Evalesi Taupeamuhu
Alexis Harrison

Reece Vidler playing rugby and passing the ball

Reese Vidler is a rugby player who models her style of play on Wallabies’ star Nic White. Photo: Supplied.

𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Griffith Junior Rugby Union u16s boys
Hanwood Football Club – 1st Grade
Griffith Junior Rugby Union u17s girls
Murrumbidgee Regional High Girls U/16 Rugby Union side
Griffith Panthers Junior Rugby League Club U14s
Griffith Swans C Grade Netball Team
Griffith Basketball Association 16 Demons Rep Team
Yoogali Soccer Club – 1st Grade

𝐂𝐥𝐮𝐛 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫

Bernie Connolly
Andrew Sinclair
Michelle Fall
Ron Anson

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