Layton’s our Local Hero

TWO Derwent Valley men are among those named as the Tasmanian recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards for 2009. New Norfolk’s Layton Hodgetts has been named the Local Hero of the Year and former Glenora man Sam Cawthorn is the Young Tasmanian of the Year. Premier David Bartlett presented all recipients with their awards in Hobart last night. Peter Cundall is the next Tasmanian of the Year and entertainer Ronnie Burns is the Tasmanian Senior of the Year.

From an early age Layton Hodgetts developed a passion for music and after moving to New Norfolk in 1983 he discovered that there was little to do for those not interested in sport. In 1993, Layton started the Derwent Valley Community Band. The following year a cultural exchange saw the band go to Japan and perform as part of Band Expo. The band was soon invited to play at events across Tasmania and then in 1997 to attend the Calgary Stampede in Canada, this time as a marching band, an arena in which they had no prior experience.

Since then the band has toured to Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Scandinavia, and performed at the ceremony to open China’s participation for the Olympics and the royal wedding parades for Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik in Denmark. Layton is now a judge for bands throughout the world and was awarded a gold medal for conducting at the 2008 European Championships. He is an inspiration to his community for his determination and passion to create something that they can contribute to and be proud of.

Sam Cawthorn grew up at Glenora with 10 brothers and sisters. At the age of 15 he left home and began mixing with street kids. He was kicked out of school but realised if he wanted to achieve his dreams he would have to turn his life around. Sam worked hard to put his past behind him and went on to pursue his goals of working in the performing arts and as a youth pastor. In 2006 Sam was involved in a head-on collision with a semi-trailer that resulted in his right arm being amputated above the elbow. He was lucky to be alive. As a result of his experiences he decided to help others by establishing the “Be Motivated” program which aims to provide young people with the necessary life skills to achieve the seemingly impossible. Sam invests those around him with confidence and self-belief. He represents the ability to remain positive and enthusiastic about life in the face of adversity.

The National Australia Day Council congratulated all finalists on their achievements and acknowledged the recipients of this year’s Tasmanian awards for their outstanding contributions. All Tasmanian award recipients now become national finalists in their categories for the Australian of the Year Awards to be announced in Canberra on January 25, 2009.

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