7 February 2024

Shellharbour's Good Neighbour Awards to celebrate simple acts of community kindness

| Keeli Royle
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Good Neighbour of the Year recipient Robyn Brown with Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer.

Robyn Brown said she’d be nominating other members of her community for the Good Neighbour of the Year award after winning it last year. Photo: Shellharbour City Council.

They’re the people who are always happy to help out without asking for anything in return, but now Shellharbour residents who make their community a better place will get their time in the spotlight at the annual Good Neighbour Awards.

Robyn Brown has lived in Albion Park for more than five decades and has been a friendly face and listening ear for many in the area.

“It enriches your own life so much just to relate to others,” Robyn said.

“If I go for a walk or something and see someone on their own and they haven’t got headsets on or anything, they’re often good for a chat and you get to know so many new people.

“People are so interesting and everyone’s got a story and it’s lovely.”

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Whether it’s out and about or right by her home, Robyn has a knack for connecting with people.

“You can live in a street for years and not get to know your neighbours,” she said. “It only takes a little thing.

“You look for something that they might be interested in – say they’ve got a nice garden, offer them a cutting or ask for a cutting even, and the same with people with dogs, they always seem to meet up and talk about their dogs.”

And these simple conversations and gestures can mean a lot to community members who may not have family surrounding them or could be struggling with isolation.

“There’s so many reasons that people are on their own and they’re lonely and it’s not hard just to be friendly,” Robyn said.

“I think it’s the little things that you can do, like just saying ‘hello’ and offering friendship or ‘I’m going shopping, can I get something for you?’

Last year, Robyn won Shellharbour City Council’s Good Neighbour of the Year award after being nominated by a friend.

And while she was initially hesitant to accept the honour, she quickly realised the value of the recognition and being part of the awards.

“I could see the way it was set up, with the kids’ artwork around and the people that were called up on stage with families and the way the council did it, I just thought this was so worthwhile, this is so honouring and just so important for our community.

“And it was such a blessing just to be there and talk to some of the people and just listen to what they’ve been doing within the community and it just warmed my heart.”

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Now she is determined to see others recognised for their incredible contribution to the community as well.

“There’s so many people that I see that do so much more than me and I think, ‘They should have a recognition’.

“I just think the opportunity to be able to do that is a blessing and if I just am able to put them in this nomination then it will be a blessing to them like it was to me.”

Council is accepting nominations from Shellharbour residents for Good Neighbour of the Year, Street of the Year and the Children’s Drawing Competition.

“We hold these annual awards to recognise and celebrate the community members who reach out, support and help care for the people in their neighbourhoods,” Mayor Chris Homer said.

“Nominating someone is the perfect way to say thanks for being a great neighbour, as well as going in the draw to win great prizes.”

Nominations can be made through the Shellharbour City Council website before 5 pm on Friday 22 March.

Winners will be announced in April.

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