At just 13, Kahlab Miller is probably Tamworth's youngest karate instructor.
The junior black belt has been training two nights a week since he was a toddler. He's now become a teacher at the Tamworth Kenpokai Karate.
He was today awarded the Mitchell Brady Encouragement Award, one of a dozen community heroes recognized by a 2021 local Australia Day award.
Mr Brady was a much-loved local volunteer and sportsman who was known for his enthusiasm for the Tamworth community. He died at the age of just 16.
The young black belt said he wanted to live up to his memory.
The award will encourage him to "definitely try harder in school, that's for sure," Kahlab Miller said.
"I want to live up the standards that he put down."
Mr Miller wants to be a police officer when he graduates school, to help others in the community.
Tamworth Regional Councillors and MP Kevin Anderson issued a new crop of local go-getters at a ceremony in the Ray Walsh House council building on Tuesday morning.
The Australia day citizenship ceremony was quieter than usual this year, a victim of COVID-19.
The families of several new Australia citizens were forced to wait outside of the ceremony by coronavirus isolation obligations.
The 2021 Tamworth Citizen of the Year is Kenneth Hall. The retired educator was awarded the gong for his commitment towards volunteering in the community. He has also helped provide a free nutritious breakfast at Tamworth High School Breakfast Club for the past twenty years and spent a decade running the local Telecross service for the Red Cross.
Young Citizen of the Year is Ms Georgia Smith, who overcame leukemia at a very early age. The high school student now spends whatever time she can volunteering with Ronald McDonald House, Camp Quality and the Starlight foundation. She is also a talented football coach, among a dizzying array of other sports commitments.
Manilla Young Citizen of the Year is Madeline Heywood, who was forced by the coronavirus to abandon plans to travel overseas and volunteer for her gap year. Instead she spent months volunteering at Manilla Hospital and at the Manellae Lodge. She also helps out at the Presbyterian Church Sunday School, the local Bargain Centre and with local touch football groups.
Long-time resident, Ms Vicki Margaret White was awarded the Manilla Citizen of the Year. Vicki has served with the Manilla Royal Fire Service for the past eight years, and has also worked in the Namoi and Halls Creek Branch.
Manilla event of the year was the Light Up the Dawn event coordinated by the town's RSL Sub Branch.
Manilla achiever of the year was Mitch Doring, a player-coach for the Manilla Tigers who helped the club achieve its best result in over 50 years.
Nundle District Craft Shop won the town's community recognition award. The craft shop sells a wide range of local craft products, and jewellery, and hosted a community fund day to raise spirits after the 2019 Black Summer Bushfires.
Barraba Citizen of the Year was awarded to Mr Shaun Faulkner. The dedicated volunteer has spent 15 years helping the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Support Group and Volunteer Rescue Association, organising a number of other fundraising events and a car show held during Frost Over Barraba.
The Community Event of the Year was awarded to the Barraba Community Incorporated for organising last year's Australia Day Awards ceremony and concert.