The quiet achievers who contribute so much to our communities were recognised at the 2018 Myall Lakes Community Awards.
The ceremony was held at Club Taree on November 3 to celebrate those who have dedicated themselves to sports clubs, charities, churches, veteran groups, surf clubs and volunteer organisations.
Citizen of the Year- Helen Bennett
Citizen of the year recipient Helen Bennett was born at Kimbriki in the late 1940s.
Helen grew up on a farm in the Manning Valley and attended school at Kimbriki and Taree before joining the Commonwealth Bank in Taree.
Helen married local farmer Ernest Bennett who later established the Tinonee Bus Company, where Helen could often be seen driving the buses.
In the late 1970s, the family moved to Tinonee.
Helen has been involved in the local community ever since. Helen is a long-time member of the Town Head canteen ladies group, serving local farmers and their wives for about 40 years.
Helen became a foundation member of the Taree branch of Trefoil Guild and in 2016 received a 40 year medal and certificate from Girl Guides for her support and dedication to organisation.
Helen has been involved with the Tinonee Memorial School of Arts Hall and was last year appointed patron after 20 years of service.
Youth of the Year- Nicholas Parsons
For the past eight years, youth of the year recipient Nicholas Parsons has been heavily involved in various community group activities such as the role of bugler and band member for various ceremonies across the Manning region.
Nicholas’ amazing musical talent has been shared without reserve along with his encouragement of others in both school and wider community activities.
Since 2000, Nicholas has volunteered in the Great Lakes Concert and Jazz Community bands. Since 2014, Nicolas he has been head of the trumpet section.
He regularly performs as bugler for the playing of the Last Post and Reveille in Anzac ceremonies in both the Manning and Great Lakes communities.
Nicholas teaches primary and high school students on weekday afternoons how to play the trumpet and drums this includes preparing them for Eisteddfods and AMEB examinations.
In 2016, Nicholas received the junior artist of the year award for the Great Lakes area and currently volunteers as the lead trumpet player for the Sinfonia Mid-North Coast Orchestra.
Senior of the Year- Kel McCredie
An active member of the Pacific Palms Surf Life Saving Club for 25 years, senior of the year recipient Kel McCredie was this year awarded life membership of the club.
His tireless energy in managing the operational capacity of the club is truly amazing.
During his involvement, Kel has attended 100 per cent of his rostered patrol duties.
His dedication to the club and his commitment to ensuring the success of its high profile sponsored events can only be applauded.
Kel has competed at Nationals as a beach flags champion and provides major assistance in the development of bronze medallion candidates as well as providing beach coaching for the local nippers.
There is rarely a day that his car won't be seen in the car park of the club.
Sportsperson of the Year- Holli Wheeler
It's been a standout year for sportsperson of the year Holli Wheeler.
Holli started out in her junior rugby league career with the Old Bar Pirates.
She was selected in the NSW Country Championships, before making her debut for NSW in the Women’s State of Origin match.
Holli plays in the Holden Women’s NRL Premiership for St George Illawarra Dragons and was named their 2018 player of the year.
She was also selected in the Prime Minister's 13s team that played in the 40-12 defeat of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby in late September.
Holli made her Australian test debut against New Zealand where the Jillaroos won in a cliff hanger 26-24 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
Junior Sportsperson of the Year- Tarli Black
Junior sports person of the year Tarli Black has represented Hallidays Point Primary School and Forster Athletics Club at the highest level for a number of years.
She achieved some amazing results in 100 and 200 metre and her school results include six Manning zone records, one Hunter region record and a National record.
Tarli competed at a National level where she received bronze in 100 and 200 metre as well as gold in the 4 x 100 relay.
She also holds a number of zone and regional records at Little Athletics along with many State medals, two country championship records and one record that was set 40 years ago.
Apart from athletics, Tarli also excels in touch football and netball.
Community Group of the Year- Manning Support Services- Connected Families team
Community group of the year Manning Support Services – Connected Families team is involved with assisting many organisations in the Manning and Great Lakes region including Mission Australia and FACS groups.
The group has organised numerous community events such as ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ during Child Protection Week, TAFE Careers Expo for Youth, Biripi Baby Show and assisting to welcome Aboriginal babies to country.
During NAIDOC week they held events raising awareness of the female aspect in Aboriginal communities.
The Connected Families team raises awareness around parenting, family and domestic violence and mental health.
Their programs assist parents to develop strategies and learn new skills to manage difficult behaviour.
Another program that the team runs annually is called Making Time for Mums.
The program targets expectant and new mums and provides information about perinatal mental health, while at the same time offering a time of fun, relaxation and pampering.
The MSS Connected Families Team perform a very admirable role in our community with staff that are committed to ensure all of the organisations programs and community events achieve the maximum benefit for those in need.
Cultural award- Luca Saunders
Cultural award winner Luca Saunders attends Taree High School.
Luca’s passion is singing and wants to inspire people through her voice.
She has performed at the Taree Carols by Candlelight and will this year co-host the event with her dad Andy.
Luca is a favourite at the Melbourne Comedy Festival's Asylum Seekers Resources Centre Benefit Concert, having performed there every year since she was just 11-years-old.
This year she spoke at the Ocean Rhythms Festival about her pride of being a strong Biripi woman and recently featured in the film 'Teach a Man to Fish'.
She performed at its launch at the Manning Entertainment Centre to a packed house.
At Taree High, Luca teaches traditional Aboriginal dance and is considered a cultural ambassador for the school, described as a positive role model for her peers.
Luca aspires to make a difference in the community and promote the rich culture of the Biripi nation.
RSL ministerial commendations were also presented to Forster’s Frank Brady, Taree’s Dennis Lawrence and Harry Fisher and Wingham’s Ronald Irwin.
Colin Butcher was recognised for 50 years of service as a Justice of the Peace, Megan Nicholson for the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll and Hannah Chicken with a NSW State representative award.
Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead congratulated all the award recipients.
“Across our towns and villages hundreds of local residents volunteer their time freely without the expectation of recognition, but I believe it is important that as a community we acknowledge their efforts, after all their contribution is priceless,” Mr Bromhead said.
The awards were presented by Mr Bromhead, Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie, MidCoast Council mayor David West and Early Childhood and Aboriginal Affairs minister Sarah Mitchell.