A Queensland grazier who lost her son in an on-farm accident and has bravely shared his life story to inspire others is the overall winner of the 2020 Shine Awards, a joint initiative of The Weekly Times and Harvey Norman.
Carmel Beresford from Eulo, in southwest Queensland, was overwhelmed by grief after her youngest son, Sam, was killed in a freak gyrocopter accident on the family’s cattle station in 2011.
To help deal with the anguish, Carmel wrote the story of Sam’s life and death, publishing a book last year. She hoped book sales would bring in a small income for the family while they struggled through drought.
The story has touched the hearts of readers across the nation, raised awareness about the crucial role of farm safety on rural and remote properties, and given people a greater understanding of the hardships farming families go through to get food on Australian tables.
Carmel wants people to know that since Sam’s death, “this southwest region of Queensland has experienced the deaths of other fine, hard-working young men, doing what they loved best – living and working in the bush.”
In its fourth year, the Shine Awards is a collaboration between News Corp Australia and Harvey Norman that was founded to celebrate and recognise the achievements of women across rural and regional Australia.
The judges said all 18 finalists from Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia showed extraordinary courage, resilience and ingenuity, but Carmel’s story was especially moving.
Their stories all feature online and in print today in a 32-page Shine magazine inserted today in The Weekly Times, which will also feature in The Australian on Friday, November 20.
For the past 12 weeks Shine nominees’ stories have featured in The Weekly Times, with a dedicated print, digital and social media marketing campaign, highlighting rural and regional women who make a real difference to their communities and industries.
Herald & Weekly Times chairman and News Corp Australia Community Ambassador, Penny Fowler, said judging this year’s Shine Awards was inspiring and humbling.
“Reading the incredible stories of rural and regional women who have done so much to improve the lives of others is an honour,” Fowler said. “This year, the number of women nominated doubled. We heard from hundreds of women from every state and territory, whose courage, generosity and ingenuity holds their communities together.
“Congratulations to all involved in the Shine Awards which really do shine a light on extraordinary women, and thank you to Katie Page and Harvey Norman for their enduring commitment to the awards.”
Harvey Norman CEO, Katie Page said: “Against the devastating backdrop of drought and bushfires then travel restrictions and lockdowns, the women of the 2020 Shine Awards set the example in how to prevail.
“Each of the finalists and winners demonstrate what can be achieved through invention, courage and hard work.
“We have a responsibility to understand the depth of contribution made by those living and working in rural and regional Australia. If you want to know our country is in the very best hands, take some time to read these women’s stories.
“Congratulations to each of the nominees, finalists and winners of the 2020 Shine Awards.”
The awards recognise six category winners who are beacons of light in terms of their Passion, Belief, Grace, Spirit, Dedication and Courage. Each category winner has been awarded a $2500 voucher from Harvey Norman and the overall Shine Awards winner will be awarded $5000.
2020 Overall and Category Winners
OVERALL and COURAGE
Carmel Beresford, grazier and author
Simone Dudley, occupational therapist and co-founder of Therapy Connect
Lauwana Blackley, dialysis nurse
Palm Island, QLD
Georgia Foster Eyles, bushfire recovery volunteer
Meg Clothier, farm caretaker
Kate Davis, local food event organiser