Strong Biripi woman Joedie Lawler, Taree PCYC volunteer 15-year-old Asha Clarke and Tinonee-based para-equestrian Jasmine Chamberlain are among major awardees in the 2020 Mid Coast Australia Day honours.
The awards were presented at a civic ceremony in Forster this morning (January 26). Nominees came from across the whole Mid Coast local government area after it was decided to consolidate the three main ceremonies previously held at Gloucester, Taree and Forster into one single ceremony.
The recipients are:
- Cultural award: Joedie Lawler
- Volunteer of the year: Colin Howarth
- Community activity of the year: Great Lakes Food Trail
- Sportstar of the year award: Jasmine Chamberlain
- Young citizen of the year: Asha Clarke
- Citizen of the year: John Hahn
"Our award recipients this year represent everything that is great about the people of the MidCoast region," MidCoast Council Mayor David West said.
Members of council's awards panel were grateful to everyone who took the time to nominate an individual or group they felt was deserving of regional honours, admitting it had been a difficult task to narrow down the field.
Mid Coast's inaugural recipient of the Cultural Award is Joedie Lawler, CEO of Purfleet Taree Local Aboriginal Land Council.
"Joedie is everything we imagined when we decided to include the cultural award," said Mayor West.
"She has always been an active member of the community and is committed to showcasing and celebrating her culture with others."
This year also included the very first Volunteer of the Year award, with Colin Howarth, a volunteer for The Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group, receiving the honours.
As well as the neighbourhood group, Colin has also regularly volunteered for aged care services, a transport program that works in partnership with Cancer Council NSW and Hunter New England Health Services.
Over the past seven year he has spent around three days a week helping others.
"He's a truly selfless, generous person who deserves this award and more and we're very grateful for his contribution to our community," added Mayor West.
This year's Community Activity of the Year Award was presented to Great Lakes Food Trail, an event organised by Sue Williams.
This event bring thousands of tourists to the area, educates attendees about local, ethical farming and continues to increase awareness of good and healthy food for the community.
Jasmine Chamberlain is the 2020 Sportstar of the Year.
Jasmine, 19, is a member of Manning Valley Dressage, Equestrian Australia and Federation Equestrian Internationale. She has been riding since she was 12 years old and has competed in Riding for the Disabled Australia Special Olympics Equestrian.
Last year was a big year for Jasmine, winning three national Australia first places in Equestrian Australian Para Equestrian national video competitions.
She and her mother were also caught up in the bushfire emergency last November and they and the horses were evacuated to Taree Showground.
The MidCoast's Young Citizen of the Year is inspirational 15 year old, Asha Clarke.
Asha has been a participant and volunteer with the PCYC, undergoing a range of courses to become an accredited gymnastics instructor.
For the last 12 months Asha has run a weekly Koori Gymnastics program specifically for young girls at risk in the community. She has not only been an instructor to the group, she has become a friend, mentor, role model and support person.
The 2020, MidCoast Citizen of the Year was awarded to John Hahn.
"John is an exceptional person, with a long history of serving his country and helping his community," said Mayor West.
"I'm honoured to present him with this award and grateful to him for the work he continues to do to better the MidCoast."
John is a Vietnam Veteran, an inventor and an active member of Cape Hawke Surf Life Saving Club and Forster Tuncurry Lions Club as well as assisting local aged care services and his Church.
He received life membership of Cape Hawke Surf Club and is also the recipient of the highest Lions Award - the Melvin Jones Fellowship.
He has given time, support, assistance and care to others throughout his life.
"All our award recipients this year contribute to making our region a better place and I thank them for the dedication," added Mayor West.
It has been Australia's lost summer. Drought, hail, floods and, worst of all, bushfires have ravaged communities all over the nation. But the selfless actions of friends, family, neighbours, strangers, local groups and volunteer organisations have inspired us and strengthened the bonds of community. Please join us in saying thanks to the heroes of the home front by sharing your stories of gratitude. To salute a person or a group, please use the form below.
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