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Lake Mac Awards finalists 2024 a who’s who of champions

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The race is on to find out who will become the face of the city following the announcement of the Lake Mac Awards finalists for 2024.

The shortlist reads like a who’s-who of talent, ranging from a Red Bull Air Race champion pilot to a Matildas World Cup superstar, invaluable mental health advocates and eco-warriors to a domestic violence survivor who is now tirelessly striving to improve the lives of others.

Homegrown Newcastle Jets professional footballer Emily van Egmond joins former RAAF top gun fighter pilot Matt Hall as high-profile names in the running for the main award.

Lake Mac Awards finalist 2024: Emily van Egmond. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

Bailey Seamer, who walked 5,500 kilometres across the east coast of Australia in the name of mental health awareness, Survivors R Us founder Ann-Maria Martin, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle Suicide Prevention Network CEO Bradley Dunn, MasterChef Australia contestant Stephanie de Sousa and climate change activist Anna Noon round out an eclectic list of prospective ambassadors.

Lake Macquarie City mayor Kay Fraser said each finalist was worthy to receive the baton from 2023 ambassador Matt Dun as the new representative of the city.

“The Lake Mac Ambassador embodies the very best of our city and I’m beyond excited by this year’s crop of nominees,” she said.

“I’d like to thank Matt for his wonderful tenure as ambassador and congratulate him on his success in his ongoing work to combat childhood cancer.”

Lake Mac Awards finalist 2024: MasterChef Australia contestant Stephanie de Sousa.

Professor Dun said serving as the city’s standout citizen of 2023, after being recognised for his incredible charity work and research into Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), had been a great honour.

“The privilege of being Lake Mac Ambassador 2023 has provided me with a wonderful platform to meet, interact and welcome Lake Macquarie’s newest Australian citizens – a remarkable experience given the many wonderfully varied journeys made by each on their way to becoming Australian,” he said.

“The role has also facilitated new opportunities to speak with elected state and national officials about increased advocacy and support of children and their families’ fighting cancer.”

Professor Dun’s advocacy contributed to a recent federal government announcement of $20 million over seven years for clinical trials to find treatments for childhood brain cancers.

A total of 70 finalists have been named across 13 categories including the inaugural Lake Mac Outstanding Contributor with Disability.

Finalists will be celebrated and winners announced at a prestigious gala dinner ceremony on 22 March.

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