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Balonne women win top prizes at business awards debut


Five exceptional women of the Balonne Shire are shining even brighter tonight, after taking out a suite of top prizes at The Greater Downs Women in Business Awards. 

Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole, Liz Hill of Thallon and Sally Rigney of Nindigully each won their respective categories at the awards gala on Friday, while Nikki Pulfer of Dirranbandi and Kim Wildman of St George received highly commended certifications – a first for the Women in Business Awards. 

The inclusion of Balonne Shire women in the awards is another significant first, and Mayor Samantha O’Toole said the considerable representation – and award wins - from the Balonne is something for all residents to celebrate. 

“To have so many of us representing the Balonne in the Women in Business Awards is a testament to our people,” she said. 

“Our little group represents a much wider community which has even more driven, entrepreneurial, tenacious and passionate residents who make our towns a little bit better every day. 

“I’m so proud of Sally, Liz, Nikki and Kim; to be held in the same esteem as these ladies is an honour in itself, because each of them have made so many commendable achievements.” 

The Balonne Shire representatives have received the following awards: 

  • Sally Rigney - Greater Downs Woman in Business of the Year
  • Liz Hill - Community Dedication Award
  • Mayor Samantha O'Toole - Mary Wagner Honour
  • Nikki Pulfer - Rising Star Award (highly commended)
  • Kim Wildman - Business Adaption and Ingenuity Award (highly commended)

The highly commended award was introduced for the first time this year, in recognition of strong applicants including Kim Wildman and Nikki Pulfer. 

The Greater Downs Women in Business Awards traditionally encompasses the districts of Toowoomba, Dalby, Warwick, Stanthorpe, Wallangarra, Goondiwindi, Oakey, Miles, Pittsworth, Allora, Clifton Cecil Plains, Drayton, Milmerran, Nobby, Chinchilla, Kingaroy, Surat, and surrounding areas.

2021 marks the first year Balonne Shire women have been eligible to enter. 

Each of the candidates was vetted through a rigorous selection process, including several rounds of evaluation and a panel interview with judges. 

Women in Business Awards are run across six geographical areas of Queensland, with the objective to recognise and honour exceptional women making a difference across the state. 

Published: 4th June 2021

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