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City’s highest honour awarded to Tony Deakin

Mr Antony ‘Tony’ Deakin OAM, former mayor and architect, has been granted the City’s highest honour of the Keys to the City by Armidale Regional Council, at a special ceremony held in the Armidale Mall on Wednesday 17 May 2023. 

Armidale Regional Council Mayor, Sam Coupland, dressed in his mayoral robes to mark the importance of the occasion, said he was “immensely honoured “to be able to present Mr Deakin with this very special award.

“The Keys to the City is a symbolic presentation to represent the highest offer a city can confer on an individual or organisation and it recognises outstanding achievement in the area of sport, community or humanitarian work by a resident of our local government area,” said the mayor. 

“The award by Council at this time pays tribute to Tony for his contributions to the community life of Armidale as well as to its architectural form and appearance.

“Tony has designed so many of our buildings and public spaces, including the Armidale Lookout, Hanna’s Arcade, NERAM, the Michael Hoskins Theatre at TAS, The Armidale Mall and The Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place.”    

“These amazing buildings are part of our city’s architectural identity and heritage, and loved by the people who live here.

“He has also had a wider influence on the features of the City, designing over 100 houses and renovating schools, churches, the hospital, the police station, and many other projects, including the Guyra Bowling Club in 1966,” said the mayor. 

The Member for New England honourable Barnaby Joyce, Member for Northern Tablelands honourable Adam Marshall and the Mayor of Armidale Regional Council Sam Coupland all spoke at the ceremony praising Tony’s incredible contribution of designing iconic buildings and doing much of his work pro bono for the community.

Local historian Mr Graham Wilson also spoke highly of Tony’s capacity to design buildings which were complimentary to the existing heritage architecture, such as the St Peter’s Cathedral Parish Centre. Mr Michael McPhillips, a colleague of Tony’s at the architectural firm Magoffin & Deakin, spoke about Tony’s ability to always remain calm and kind under pressure and returned to work after retiring to support them with further projects. 

After the speeches, Mr Deakin was then presented with his award, symbolised by a plaque with a golden key unveiled by Mayor Sam Coupland, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the community. Mr Deakin then thanked the mayor and the council and said he was humbled by the great honour of Keys to the City. 

Tony Deakin was elected Mayor in 1987.   In 2000 he was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia General Division for Services to the community, particularly in the field of architecture. Mr Deakin has also been a Rotarian and volunteered his time and expertise to the community over decades. 

The ceremony was held in the Armidale Mall to highlight Mr Deakin’s involvement in designing the area closed off to traffic, which was a Council initiative at the time to increase pedestrian access. 

Photo:  Left to Right – Deputy Mayor Cr Todd Redwood, Adam Marshall MP, Mayor Sam Coupland, Barnaby Joyce MP, Mr Tony Deakin, Mrs Barbara Deakin, Mr James Deakin (Tony and Barbara’s son), Mr Graham Wilson (local historian) and Mr Michael McPhillips (former colleague of Tony’s). 

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