Our state hero

Smithton’s Mary Kay has been elevated to a national finalist in the 2015 Australian of the Year Awards.

Award. Smithton’s Mary Kay has been elevated to a national finalist in the 2015 Australian of the Year Awards following a presentation evening on Thursday.

Having been nominated as a state finalist for the category of Australia’s Local Hero, the 78-year-old’s name was read out as the state’s winner by Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman at a ceremony at Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart.

Volunteering from home as a marine radio operator for Smithton Coast Guard, Mrs Kay attended the event with no expectations of taking out the prestigious accolade.

“I was quite stunned actually, I didn’t expect it,” she said.

“I had to give a speech, [but] I had the winner picked out as someone else!”

Now, she will join three fellow category winners from Tasmania in travelling to a ceremony in Canberra on January 25 (Australia Day eve) next year.

At the event, state winners will meet the likes of the Australian Prime Minister and the Australian Governor-General, and national award recipients will be announced.

In the category of Australia’s Local Hero, Mrs Kay is up against social entrepreneur Juliette Wright (QLD), Mother’s Day Classic co-founder Louise Davidson (VIC) and child sexual assault campaigner Damian de Marco (ACT).

New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory are yet to announce their national finalists.

The Australian of the Year Awards is a program of the National Australia Day Council.

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