Top Gun Matt Hall Named Lake Mac Ambassador For 2024

                           Mayor Kay Fraser with some of last night’s winners | Image supplied

Red Bull Air Race World Champion Matt Hall is flying high after taking out Lake Macquarie’s top civic honour at an award ceremony on Friday night.

Hall was named Lake Mac Ambassador at a gala evening at Belmont 16s, taking the reins from 2023 winner and cancer researcher Professor Matt Dun.

“I’m a Lake Macquarie guy through and through and I’m super-proud of our city,” he said.

“I bring international guests over all the time and I take them up in the plane or the helicopter and show them the lake and they just can’t believe it.”

The former RAAF Top Gun pilot was unable to attend Friday’s ceremony due to Red Bull commitments at this weekend’s Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne.

But in a taped acceptance speech, Hall said he grew up in Lake Macquarie hanging out at Morisset Park on waterskis and paddleboards back in the 80s.

He later joined the RAAF and served with distinction at home and on deployment overseas.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser commended the 52-year-old for competing in eight Red Bull Air Race championships, culminating in his win in the competition’s final year in 2019, and continuing to run Matt Hall Racing from Lake Macquarie Airport.

“Beyond that, Matt supports many charitable causes and tirelessly champions Lake Macquarie and what our city has to offer,” Cr Fraser said.

“He has served his country and his home city with distinction, and I know he will continue to fly our flag wherever he can in his new role as Lake Mac Ambassador.”

Teenager Sophie Berude was named Young Citizen of the Year for the second year running for her continued work raising money for John Hunter Children’s Hospital.

The leukemia survivor has raised more than $40,000 over the past seven years and was recognised as ‘One to Watch’ at this year’s NSW Women of the Year Awards.

Hunter Mountain Bike Association took out the Community Group of the Year award for its work making the Awaba Mountain Bike Park one of Australia’s premier mountain-biking destinations.

The group played a key role in securing this month’s successful AusCycling MTB National Championships for Lake Macquarie.

ABC presenter and author Scott Bevan was named Lake Mac Artist and Creator for 2024.

Bevan’s enchanting book, The Lake, charts his journey around Lake Mac aboard a kayak, as well as its colourful history and characters.

Cr Fraser congratulated all the night’s winners and finalists, selected from a record pool of nominees.

“These are people and organisations doing wonderful things for Lake Macquarie,” she said.

“The Lake Mac Awards are an opportunity to give them the recognition and appreciation they so richly deserve.”