Port Macquarie resident Pam Foye has been recognised as Rotarian of the Year for her selfless efforts supporting Mid North Coast farmers in need.
Mrs Foye championed a Farmer Joe's Pantry in the Hastings run by the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie Sunrise. The charity campaign assisted landowners hit by drought and bushfires in early 2019 and 2020.
The bustling food pantry in Wauchope ran for 20 weeks, inspired by similar operations in Port Macquarie and Tamworth. It became a haven for families under stress to fill their home with food and essentials.
"I was surprised to win (the award) because you don't do these things like Farmer Joe's for a reward. It was so badly needed and I just held it together," she said,
"I wasn't alone, there was 30-odd people volunteering and I just did the rosters, made sure people were there.
"This year has been horrific really. The drought is one of the worst we have had. Three days before the pantry opened was when the sky turned orange from the fires and then we had this unforeseeable coronavirus pandemic.
"It has been an incredibly hard year but without it we wouldn't have seen how connected the community is. How all these different charities are interconnected and here to help.
"I've got beautiful emails, cards and letters from the farmers in their time of need. After the fires some people had virtually what clothes they were standing in, which was heartbreaking but incredibly rewarding to help them."
In reward for her efforts, Mrs Foye was awarded the title of Rotarian of the Year at a Sunrise meeting via Zoom on June 20.
She was presented the honour by Paul Harris Fellow and new president for 2020/2021, Colin Norton.
"A very deserved winner. She does a lot of work for Rotary and the town," Mr Norton said.
"Her initial response with the Farmer's Pantry was out of fear for the farmers. A very deserved award."
Mrs Foye a long standing member of Rotary Sunrise since 2007 and a fifth year treasurer of the group will now take up a new role as Director of Membership.
"My main job this year will be to reengage people once we start meeting again," she said.
"I'd love to start a satellite coffee club to get younger people involved in Rotary. We can't just die out because there is so much good work still to be done."