24 January 2024

Wollongong, Shellharbour councils celebrate outstanding citizens

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Winners of Wollongong Council's community awards.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery with winners of the city’s community awards. Photo: Chris Frape.

Wollongong and Shellharbour councils have recognised their outstanding community and sporting stars in ceremonies before this week’s Australia Day.

In Wollongong, 15 citizens and organisations received City of Wollongong Awards last Friday (19 January), while Shellharbour Council held its Australia Day and Community Awards on Wednesday, 17 January.

Kiama Council has moved the date of its community awards from Australia Day to coincide with Local Government Week in August.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery acknowledged and congratulated the nominees and award recipients and said it was an honour to shine a spotlight on their achievements.

“We had an unprecedented 85 nominations across the 12 award categories. As such, we judges had a tough time picking from so many worthy nominees,” he said.

“It’s heartening to see how many people contribute to the strength, success and quality of our community.”

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The three top awards – Young Citizen, Senior Citizen and Citizen of the Year – were awarded to volunteer surf lifesaver Morgan Clarke; community champion Dr Munir Hussain; and teacher, poet, storyteller, activist, and advocate Dr Aunty Barbara “Barb” Nicholson.

“Morgan has logged more than 650 volunteer hours of frontline patrolling and countless more hours behind the scenes as Director of Lifesaving at Woonona SLSC and coordinator of the annual NSW Junior Lifesaver Program,” Cr Bradbery said.

“For decades, Dr Hussain has led the Muslim community in Wollongong and is a champion for multiculturalism in our community. He has been a fearless advocate for marginalised communities, speaking up against discrimination, injustice and inequality as the voice for the voiceless.

“Aunty Barb continues to serve the Wollongong community as academic adviser to many university students, a valued committee member of South Coast Writers Centre, and a tireless advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their writing.”

Other award winners were:

  • Rising Star Award – Penelope Towney
  • Environmental Achievement Award – Emma Rooksby
  • Innovation Achievement Award – Dr Aimee Silla
  • Sports Achievement Award – Grace Tracey
  • Arts and Cultural Achievement Award – Judy Bourke
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award – Disabled Surfing Association, South Coast Branch
  • Wollongong to the World Award – Ray Collins, highly commended Mark Olive
  • Community Group of the Year Award – i98FM Illawarra Convoy
  • Lord Mayor’s Award – Coledale RSL, Rebecca Schmidt-Lachlan, Riley Lapham and Dr Sam Wise.
Three people holding community awards.

Cr Bradbery with Wollongong’s winners – Young Citizen Morgan Clarke, Citizen of the Year Aunty Barb Nicholson and Senior Citizen Dr Munir Hussain. Photo: Chris Frape.

Cr Bradbery said although these special individuals and organisations were not driven by fame nor fortune, they deserved recognition for their hard work and dedication.

“You make Wollongong a better place and we are lucky to have you,” he said.

In Shellharbour, Larry How was named the Australia Day Citizen of the Year, while Jackson Walsh was named Young Citizen of the Year.

Shellharbour City Mayor Chris Homer said it was an honour to present the awards.

“The awards ceremony is a wonderful way to celebrate those who have made Shellharbour City proud during the past year,” he said.

“Once again, the high quality of the nominees made the judging process quite challenging.

“Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners of our community and sports awards. Your contribution and achievements enrich our city.”

Two people holding awards.

Shellharbour Citizen of the Year Larry How and Lord Mayor Chris Homer. Photo: Shellharbour City Council.

Two people with awards.

Shellharbour’s Young Citizen of the Year Jackson Walsh with Deputy Mayor Kellie Marsh. Photo: Shellharbour City Council.

Larry actively supports fellow veterans in the community as President of the Albion Park RSL sub-Branch.

He is also the Secretary of The Links Shell Cove golf club and has significantly contributed to the success of the facility through his support and mentorship over the past 14 years.

He is the Director of New Generations at the Rotary Club of Shellharbour, responsible for youth programs including student exchange. He has also served as the president of the Rotary Club of Shellharbour and district president, and has received three prestigious Paul Harris Awards, recognising his service to the community in fundraising.

Jackson has been an active member of the Warilla Barrack Point Surf Life Saving Club for more than seven years.

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He has completed more than 150 hours of voluntary surf patrols between Warilla Barrack Point and Windang SLSC and has been a successful competitor at NSW Country, State and Australian Championships.

Jackson dedicates his time, passion and expertise to providing water safety for the club’s nippers and coaches the juniors.

He also coached the Warilla Barrack Point SLSC Pool Rescue Teams to compete at the NSW State and Australian Pool Rescue Championships, where the team successfully won medals at all levels.

Other award winners were:

  • Environmental Warrior of the Year – Brad Jenkins
  • Sports Star of the Year – Tayissa Buchanan
  • Young Sports Star of the Year – Delta Amidzovski
  • Athlete of the Year (Disability) – Jack Gibson
  • Support Super Star – Oliver (Olly) Spake
  • Coach of the Year – Ben Thurgar
  • Sports Team of the Year – Shellharbour Junior Football Club Women’s Youth League Team.

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