Stirling and Joondanna residents among WA Australian of the Year finalists

Mary Hutton. Photo: Alexandra Cearns
Mary Hutton. Photo: Alexandra Cearns

THE tireless work of Stirling’s Mary Hutton to rescue bears from cruelty has earned her a nomination for the WA Senior Australian of the Year award.

The 80-year-old founded Free the Bears in 1995 after watching a documentary about bears in Asia being farmed for their bile.

She has helped save nearly 1000 bears and move them into sanctuaries set up by the organisation across South East Asia, and her efforts eradicated the dancing bear trade in India.

Dr Hutton, who last year received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Sunshine Coast, continues to pursue freedom for bears despite experiencing personal tragedy when her son Simon was killed in a car accident while developing the sanctuary in Cambodia.

Joondanna’s Lorraine ‘Lol’ Winchcomb is also nominated for the award, recognising her support for remote communities and seniors.

She migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka in 1948 and worked as a radio operator for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in the eastern Goldfields for 25 years.

After moving to Perth, Ms Winchcomb co-founded Capital Community Radio in 2000, a radio station that provides music and information to senior citizens.

She is the station’s programming manager and manages its more than 120 volunteers.

Fellow Joondanna resident Radheya Jegatheva (19) is a finalist in the WA Young Australian of the Year award.

The filmmaker, artist, poet and writer has had his short films featured at more than 400 film festivals around the world and won more than 200 international awards.

His poem Seven Billion won the Young Australian Writer’s National Award for Poetry in 2016 and was developed in his multi award winning film iRony.

Jegatheva also represented Australia at the 2015 and 2016 World Youth Scrabble Championships, was named the 2018 WA Young Achiever of the Year and is in his second year of a Bachelor of Arts degree at Curtin University after achieving an ATAR of 99.15.

Winners of the senior, young and overall WA Australian of the Year, and Local Hero awards will be announced on October 30 and they will join other State and Territory recipients in the national awards on January 25.