Leading businessman and Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes has been named WA Australian of the Year.
Mr Stokes was awarded the honour by Governor Malcolm McCusker in front of a who’s who of West Australians in a ceremony at Government House this afternoon.
The announcement puts Mr Stokes in the running to be named Australian of the Year, to be announced in Canberra on Australia Day Eve.
In accepting the award, Mr Stokes said he prided himself on being West Australian and was “so proud” to receive the honour.
“I leave here today, having been selected, feeling very proud,” he said.
“I also leave here feeling very humbled by the stories of everybody else on their journey here.”
Mr Stokes was involved property development in WA in the 1960s and 1970s and took his first plunge into the media industry with the Bunbury-based Golden West Network.
He acquired several television stations, including taking a significant stake in the Seven Network in 1995.
Mr Stokes is perhaps best known for his current position as chairman of Seven Group Holdings, which includes of the world’s biggest Caterpillar dealerships WesTrac.
He has also taken an active role in preserving Australia’s military history, purchasing several Victoria Cross medals and donating them to the Australian War Memorial.
The Senior Australian of the Year (WA) was awarded jointly to Lorraine and Barry Young for their tireless work in raising awareness about meningococcal and finding a cure for the disease after their daughter Amanda passed away in 1997.
The 18-year-old was the couple’s only child and she died just 24 hours after showing symptoms of the disease.
The Young Australian of the Year (WA) Akram Azimi was given a standing ovation at the ceremony after he delivered a softly-spoken acceptance speech acknowledging the kindness he received since his arrival in Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan 13 years ago.
The 25-year-old is now studying a triple major in law, science and arts and has mentored young Indigenous people in remote Aboriginal communities, primary school students in a regional farming town and a Special Olympics athlete.
The Local Hero (WA) award was given to Indigenous health advocate Caroline de Mori, who in 2005 established the Edge of Nowhere Foundation to help Aboriginal communities grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables.
The foundation teaches people to grow, harvest, prepare and cook their food over five years and has been invited into 12 remote communities in WA.
The awards are administered by the Australia Day Council of WA.
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