Steven McRae and Meredith Hooper.
AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR IN THE UK
Award-winning writer, lecturer, historian and world expert on Antarctica, Meredith Hooper, has added another accolade to her collection - Australian of the Year in the UK 2014 presented by the Australia Day Foundation for her passion and dedication to educating the world about Antarctica.
Meredith was destined to share a deep connection with the coldest and driest continent on earth – her father studied geology under Australia’s great Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson and as a child she was entranced by her dad’s descriptions of this frozen wonderland, and a lifelong affiliation was born.
A long-time Trustee on two UK Antarctic committees, Meredith’s first visit was in 1994 when her children’s book ‘A for Antarctica’ prompted an invitation from the Australian Antarctic Division. She is still at the very top of her profession and will be giving a paper at next month’s Mawson Centenary celebrations in her hometown of Adelaide.
Meredith has made many journeys south as a writer, and much of her career has been dedicated to promoting understanding of Antarctica and climate issues to audiences both young and old.
Working tirelessly for more than five decades pursuing her passion and becoming a leading authority in the process, she maintains that ‘Antarctica demands action’ and has previously picked up awards for her work after she was selected as a writer in the region by three government programmes.
In between research projects and lectures on the polar regions, Meredith provides her expert advice to exhibitions and films and acts as a creative consultant to her Oscar-winning film and TV director son, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).
Meredith first came to England by sea on an Adelaide University scholarship. She researched her post-graduate degree in Imperial History at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
Receiving her award at the Australia Day Foundation Gala at Australia House Meredith said “We Australians in the UK inhabit two hemispheres. It's our good fortune, and our opportunity. We can gain, and we can give. This honour is a most happy acknowledging of my two selves. I am truly delighted.”
Australia Day Foundation Chairman, Philip Aiken said: “The Australia Day Foundation is very proud of Meredith for representing Australia with such distinction over the years and it’s fitting that she receives this award as we celebrate the centenary of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition."
HONORARY AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR IN THE UK
As a 19-year-old Boris Johnson spent time in Australia working and fell in love with the Australian way of life enjoying barbeque, beer and banter alongside hard work and good people. He credits this period of his life for shaping his future career as a writer, scholar, historian and Mayor of London.
Boris is a popular figure and well- known for his passion, politics and patriotism. It’s this pride and honesty that has endeared him to Australians. He has spoken of Australia as an open minded and innovative country which continues to make a significant contribution to world affairs and prosperity. Boris has always embraced Aussie traditions and values during his many visits down under.
He is proud of the historic relationship between Australia and the UK, one which continues to enjoy a healthy flow of ideas, people and goods. In a speech delivered in August last year at the opening of the Melbourne Writers Festival, Boris told his audience "Australia is the most advanced country on earth."
On winning the award, he said: "I am honoured and not a little surprised to be recognised with such a prestigious award, and one that has previously been awarded to a glittering and almost certainly far more deserving alumni!"
“Our connection to Australia is reflective of a mutual bond of language, shared history and respect that even extends to our 'chin-up carry on' attitude to Ashes defeat! London is a global capital, with a rich and diverse world community. Australians are an integral and essential part of that community, and so long as I am Mayor it is a bond I know will grow and flourish still further."
Australia Day Foundation Director, Bill Muirhead said: “The Australia Day Foundation is thrilled to give Boris this award and I can’t think of a more worthy candidate who has displayed true Aussie traits in spades and goes above and beyond to ensure the ties between Australia and Britain continue to strengthen. He displays 'archetypal Aussie characteristics in abundance and flys the flag for Australians in the UK.' "
The Australia Day Foundation considers Boris Johnson a worthy recipient of the 2014 'Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK' award.
YOUNG AUSTRALIAN ACHIEVER OF THE YEAR
IN THE UK
Australia Day Foundation Director, Dick Porter said: “The Australia Day Foundation is thrilled to give Steven this award - for someone of his age to have achieved so much and represented Australia on the world stage is truly remarkable and an inspiration to young people everywhere.”
“It’s a giant leap from growing up on the drag racing circuits in Australia to becoming The Royal Ballet’s youngest Principal dancer and performing as guest Principal with international ballet companies. Steven McRae believes that to achieve you need to be passionate about what you do, have determination to succeed and be prepared to work very hard. The Australia Day Foundation considers Steven McRae a worthy recipient of the 2014 ‘Young Australian Achiever of the Year’ award.”
Steven McRae is 28 and his dream career run has taken him from his first jazz and tap classes as a child to tapping at the Sydney Olympics, becoming the Royal Ballet’s youngest Principal dancer and performing as guest Principal with renowned international ballet companies.
Steven’s remarkable story has evoked comparisons to the fictional dancer, Billy Elliot. Steven grew up on the drag racing circuits of Western Sydney where his family competed professionally. He soon realised he was destined to star on stage rather than on the track after his sister took him to an impromptu dance class when he was just seven years old.
Steven is using his journey of hard work, passion and determination to inspire children to chase their own dreams through a co-created Manga Ballet Hero fantasy series, which is gearing up for worldwide release.
The illustrated stories feature dance characters including Steven himself, and he hopes along with providing inspiration they’ll help to change the public perception of ballet and dance in general.
As well as performing and rehearsing, Steven took and completed an Open University degree in Business Management & Leadership and graduated with a BA hons last October and would love to make a move towards the directorial side of dance and the arts, one day directing a dance company, perhaps in Australia?
He returns to Australia every year and enjoys visiting his old ballet school; he does some teaching and mentoring with the students, giving them the benefit of his vast dance experiences. Steven will perform his favourite role, Romeo, in July with the Queensland Ballet.