LOCA HERO: Drought Angels founder and director Natasha Johnston won Queensland Local Hero, for the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards. Pic: Supplied
LOCA HERO: Drought Angels founder and director Natasha Johnston won Queensland Local Hero, for the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards. Pic: Supplied

Drought Angels founder ‘honoured’ by statewide accolade

It all began with Natasha Johnston and fellow Drought Angels founder Nicki Blackwell, working out of a single shipping container in her backyard in early 2014.

Fast-forward almost seven years and the charity has helped an estimated 7000 farming families across Australia.

And on Tuesday night, Mrs Johnston was awarded Queensland Local Hero at the Australian of the Year Awards 2021 for her role in establishing and running the charity.

Originally intended as a temporary initiative, Drought Angels grew from one shipping container, to seven, and then onto a small shed in the charity's home town of Chinchilla.

"It's been an amazing journey," Mrs Johnston said.

"Our farmers are something to be treasured and to be able to help them on a daily basis is an honour."

On receiving the award on Tuesday night, Mrs Johnston said it was "very unexpected".

"I certainly didn't think I was going to win."

Drought Angels founder Natasha Johnston accepting the Queensland Local Hero award in Brisbane last night.
Drought Angels founder Natasha Johnston accepting the Queensland Local Hero award in Brisbane last night.

Now, Mrs Johnston will go on to represent Queensland in the national Australian of the Year Awards next year.

To this day, it's the thanks the charity receives that mean the most - and there's been a lot of them.

"We got a message two days ago from a farming family, the only way they were able to put Christmas lunch on the table last year was because of Drought Angels," she said.

"The thank yous we receive are always a standout moment for us.

"It's about making a difference in their lives and letting them know there is someone who cares."

Mrs Johnston also paid tribute to the entire Drought Angels team.

"This wouldn't have been possible without them," she said.

Are You Bogged Mate? mental health advocate Mary O'Brien was a runner-up.

Originally published as Drought Angels founder 'honoured' by statewide accolade


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