Vale Annette Knight AM image

25 August 2016

Albany is mourning the passing of its first lady Annette Knight AM.

A pillar of the community, few words could aptly summarise the extent of Mrs Knight’s passion and achievements for Albany and the Great Southern region.

“Annette was a magnificent champion of Albany,” Mayor Dennis Wellington said. “She was passionate about her belief in the town, passionate about where Albany was going and what it could achieve.”

In 2012, Mayor Wellington appointed Mrs Knight a Freeman of the City of Albany – one of only three people to have received this honorary title and the highest honour a city can bestow on a citizen.

Mayor Wellington said it was one of the highlights of his time as Mayor and recalled the moment he called Mrs Knight to break the news.

“Annette hated getting calls after 5pm and after council had met and endorsed her appointment as Freeman of the City, I called her and her husband Tom answered,” he said.

“Tom turned to Annette and said ‘It’s the Mayor on the phone for you’. I heard her say ‘What does he want’ and when I told her she had just been made a Freeman she was absolutely delighted. It was just reward for all the work she has done for Albany.”

That honour added to a long list of accolades that continued to accumulate in recognition of Mrs Knight’s long and successful career that began as a newsreader and announcer with ABC regional radio for 27 years.

Mrs Knight served three terms as Mayor of Albany from 1988 until 1998.

In 1996 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for services to local government, particularly through the WA Municipal Association, the Country Urban Council’s Association and as mayor of Albany.

She was a WA Citizen of the Year winner in 1997, receiving the Governor’s Award for Regional Development in recognition of her commitment, vision, leadership and contribution to growth, development and prosperity of regional WA.

A government-appointed delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention, Mrs Knight was a Justice of the Peace for 35 years, and held the University of Western Australia’s vice-chancellor’s award for outstanding service to higher education, having been instrumental in establishing Great Southern Grammar and the UWA Albany Centre.

Mrs Knight was made a commissioner of the WA Tourism Commission in 1995 and was appointed as deputy chairperson of the commission’s board in 1998. In 2001 she was awarded the Centenary Medal – awarded on the centenary of the Federation of Australia – for her service to the community of Albany, and in March this year was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame.

Speaking on radio about her Hall of Fame honour, Mrs Knight said it was a “very, very nice surprise” and she spoke about her time as Albany Mayor and the role women play in the community.

“If you wanted to do something, it didn’t matter whether you were a male or female, you just got on with the job and did it,” she said. “We all worked together because we all had a common cause…if they want to do something, well get in there and darn well do it.”

This can-do attitude epitomised everything Mrs Knight achieved for Albany.

She was always generous with sharing her knowledge and experience and Mayor Wellington said he was grateful for the advice, encouragement and support she had given him. “Her lasting praise to me was ‘You’re getting better’. She said that to me every time I saw her in the last three years,” he recalled fondly.

Mrs Knight’s final public appearance was in November last year when she was among a chosen few who met Prince Phillip and the Duchess of Cornwall when the Royal couple visited the National Anzac Centre.

“We feel deep sadness at Annette’s passing and express condolences to her husband Tom and family,” Mayor Wellington said. “Annette was deeply loved and respected by all and will be deeply missed by the community.”