AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR IN THE UK
The awards recognises Australians who have excelled in the UK.
Australia Day Foundation Director, Bill Muirhead AM said: “Michael Lynagh’s legacy goes way beyond his status as a Wallaby Rugby legend. He continues to work tirelessly to raise money for the Stroke Association’s “Back to Work” programme to help those unfortunate enough to have been affected by a stroke. On top of all that, he’s a really good bloke – a great ambassador for Australia. This award recognises outstanding Australians doing outstanding things in the UK.
The Australia Day Foundation has great pleasure in awarding Michael Lynagh 2017 Australian of the Year in the UK.”
Michael Lynagh is one of the finest players to have graced the sport of Rugby Union. He made his international debut for the Wallabies at the age of 20 and quickly established himself as one of Australia’s rising rugby talents.
Lynagh represented Australia for 11 years from 1984 - 1995, captaining the side in his final two years. By the time he played the last of his 72 internationals he had set a new point-scoring record of 911, a total that remains an Australian record.
Lynagh was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1996, inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1999, and received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000. He was welcomed into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Wallaby Hall of Fame in 2013.
Despite an illustrious international rugby career, it is off the field where Lynagh has faced his greatest challenge. In 2012, Lynagh suffered a stroke and continues to deal with the effects of the life-altering event today.
In 2013, just a year after his stroke, Lynagh ran the London Marathon with a team of colleagues, helping to raise over £80,000 to set up the Stroke Association’s ‘Back to Work’ project. The programme is designed to support stroke sufferers get back into the community and adjust to a new way of life.
Since hanging up his boots, Lynagh has forged an impressive commercial and media career in the UK, all while he continues his support for the Stroke Association, using his profile to help build public awareness of the associated signs and symptoms.
HONORARY AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR IN THE UK
The Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK title is awarded in the spirit of the Australia Day Foundation itself – aiming to strengthen ties among the Australian community in the UK.
Australia Day Foundation Chairman, Philip Aiken AM said: “Sir Michael Parkinson’s career has been nothing short of remarkable. He is loved by millions of people throughout the world and that in itself is an achievement worthy of recognition. Sir Michael has always been a strong promoter of Australia and its people, having been a frequent visitor for over 30 years. In recognition of his outstanding achievements and distinguished career, the Australia Day Foundation considers Sir Michael Parkinson a truly worthy recipient of the 2017 Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK.”
Sir Michael Parkinson, best known for his award-winning talk show ‘Parkinson,’ is one of the greatest journalists and influential entertainers of our time.
He has recorded over 70 episodes of his famous talk show in Australia, during which he talked to most of the men and women who had shaped or were shaping Australia’s political, cultural and sporting landscapes. Many Australians have appeared on his show including: Kerry Packer, Barry Humphries, Paul Hogan and Kylie Minogue.
Sir Michael has a close affinity with Australia and its people, and has been a regular visitor over the last 30 years.
In 2011, he became the first non-Australian to deliver the Australia Day speech, referring to Australia as his second home.
Sir Michael quit his popular long-running UK talk show in 2007, after a career spanning more than 40 years in television, radio and print.
Sir Michael has received many honours in recognition of his achievements during his long-standing career; he was awarded a CBE in June 2000 and a knighthood for services to broadcasting in the 2008 New Year’s honours list.
YOUNG AUSTRALIAN ACHIEVER OF THE YEAR
IN THE UK
This award recognises the achievements of Young Australians in the UK.
Australia Day Foundation Director, Dick Porter said: “Suzie is an outstanding, talented young Australian who has accomplished great things in her short career. To win a starring role in a mega musical in London’s West End is an outstanding achievement. We are delighted to recognise her success by awarding her the 2017 Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK.
Suzie Mathers is best known for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in the Australian, Asian and London productions of Wicked, as well as playing the lead role in the ABBA mega musical, Mamma Mia!
Mathers has had a dream run since completing a Bachelor of Arts, in Music Theatre, at the prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2007.
Shortly after graduating she joined the original cast of the global musical phenomenon, Wicked. The following year she scored her first lead role when she was cast as Sophie Sheridan in the 10th Anniversary Australian tour of Mamma Mia! the musical. Her standout performance earned her a nomination for Best Newcomer at the 2009 Sydney Theatre Awards.
Mathers returned to the cast of Wicked to perform the lead role of Glinda in Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and Manila to much critical acclaim. She then went on to tour Wicked in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, to sell-out shows. During the Brisbane tour she reached a milestone 500th performance as Glinda.
Last year Suzie made her West End debut, reprising the role of Glinda for the London production of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Mathers was also given the honour of leading the award-winning show through its 10th anniversary performance.