Who will be named as our top citizen?

A STRONG field of 26 inspirational people and dedicated community groups are vying for top honours in our Australia Day awards.

Winners will be revealed during an awards ceremony on Friday evening.

There are two Young Citizen of the Year nominees, 11 people vying for the Citizen of the Year honour, eight people in the running for Senior Citizen of the Year and five Community Group of the Year contenders.

Mayor Peter Besseling encouraged people to attend the free awards presentation on the Town Green.

“This will be a community celebration of the achievements and a recognition of the work done by the Australia Day nominees,” Cr Besseling said.

He said a great deal of people worked for our community throughout the year.

“It’s absolutely essential that we provide the opportunity to recognise the work they do,” Cr Besseling said.

The Australia Day awards do just that.

Cr Besseling stressed the awards were a community recognition.

Community members nominate individuals and groups, while the council’s Australia Day Sub-Committee decides the winners.

Cr Besseling said it was great to have so many nominations.

“It just shows what a great community we live in,” Cr Besseling said.

This year’s awards presentation is a free event held the evening before Australia Day to honour our Hastings Australia Day Awards recipients. 

The awards presentation will be held on the Town Green from 6pm on Friday. The event is open to all members of the public. 

Food stalls and entertainment will be available before the official proceedings.

People are invited to bring chairs and rugs and start the Australia Day celebrations on Friday by honouring our award winning locals.

“We are hoping and expecting a lot of people will turn up to recognise the great work of these people,” Cr Besseling said.


* Young Citizen of the Year nominees

Peter Bullock: Has been an army cadet staff member going on six years. 

Ryley Batt: Has represented Australia in three Paralympic games since he began his career in wheelchair rugby. 

* Citizen of the Year nominees

Dr Ray Hodgson: Cares for his mind through meditation and his body through ocean swimming - but he cares for his fellow human beings far more. 

Debbie Sommers: Has enthusiasm in her work at the historical museum. 

Peter Gee: Helps others and goes above and beyond the customer service duties of a shop owner and employer. 

Leonie Gale: was the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife fearless leader for more than a decade. 

Robyn Turczysnki: Is an inspirational and admired person at Wauchope High School.

Phoebe Crane: Despite a number of physical disabilities resulting from traumatic injuries and the recent loss of her house, car and possessions in a fire, Phoebe continues to provide humanitarian services and charity work within her community and abroad. 

Phil Pittis: The builder by trade has dedicated most of the past 14 years to supervising Work for the Dole projects in Port Macquarie.

Emma Taylor: Ran the MRI department in Port Macquarie Base Hospital for many years, and at a young age, she cared for thousands of patients.

Craig Lockwood: Contributes to maintaining Australian heritage.

David Beard: Is a permanent teacher at ASPECT (Autism specific) school - the Rockpool class at St Joseph’s Primary school; former Olympian 2000-2004 volleyball; and volunteer volleyball coach.

Tom Kennedy: In 1984, Tom was involved in a motorbike accident in which he sustained permanent spinal damage and quadriplegia. Since then, Tom has been a leader in a supporting people with disability through advocacy and sport.

* Senior Citizen of the Year nominees

Robert Owens: Has been a volunteer at Social Seniors and Friends since 2004. 

Marjorie Page: Has made a rich contribution to our local community over the past 10 years through volunteer activities with numerous organisations.

Dr Nat Subbiah: Came to Australia in 1973 and worked at Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Helen Ross: Is a compassionate, generous, and outstanding citizen of Port Macquarie and the Hastings. 

Kath Storey: Is a full-time volunteer for carers. Kath has contributed to our community by volunteering for Alzheimers (NSW) since 1982, and runs a coffee club for Alzheimer’s carers in Port Macquarie and Laurieton. 

Edna Millian Lamb: Has been a member of the Torch Bearers for Legacy for 37 years.

Bill Vassallo: His contributions to the Port Macquarie community span 20 years and flow from his personality and character. 

Margot Anderson: Is concurrently chairwowan of Comboyne’s  Memorial Hall Committee. 

* Community Group of the Year nominees:

Quota International of Camden Haven: Judith Bowerman as president of Camden Haven Quota has provided inspirational leadership to a small group of women dedicated to helping disadvantaged women.

Drum Attack Weekend Boot Camp: The community Group, Drum Attack Weekend Drumming Boot Camp was launched in September 2012 by Mandy Campbell, mother of a 12-year-old drummer, and other dedicated parents. 

Port Macquarie Historical Society and Museum: is a volunteer-run history and heritage organisation established in 1956. 

Camden Haven Meals on Wheels: Has successfully met the considerable challenges presented when funding for aged care services was switched from state to federal government without sacrificing its integrity, its ethos or its client-centred reason for existing. 

Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Ambassadors: This group of enthusiastic volunteers meet on a regular basis to ensure they are available to cover the myriad of tasks requiring tourism ambassadors. 

Helping young people: Nominee Phil Pittis.

Helping young people: Nominee Phil Pittis.


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