Blue Bay’s Paula Hardwick has been crowned the Central Coast Citizen of the Year.
The long-serving Meals on Wheels volunteer picked up the honour at the Coast’s 2021 Australia Day Awards ceremony on January 20, where 11 other locals were also honoured.
Central Coast Council’s Director, Connected Communities, Julie Vaughan, said the annual Australia Day Awards are an opportunity for the Coast to recognise extraordinary residents who go above and beyond to contribute positively to community life.
“Each of our nine winners and three highly commended recipients have enriched our community through their unique achievements and contributions and I am thrilled to congratulate them on this honour,” Vaughan said.
“Our Citizen of the Year for 2021, Paula Hardwick, epitomises what it means to be an Australian, having committed her time as a volunteer with Meals on Wheels Central Coast for more than 20 years.”
When COVID-19 restrictions came into effect and Hardwick’s role as a flight attendant ceased, she increased her commitment to Meals on Wheels and started volunteering several days a week to ensure that her clients received nutritional meals and valuable social interaction during a difficult time.
“Paula is passionate about bringing happiness and smiles through every delivery, so much so that she made it her mission to arrive dressed in a different costume for each delivery.
“It’s this commitment to going the extra mile to support some of the most vulnerable members of our community that makes Paula a worthy recipient of our 2021 Citizen of the Year Award,” Vaughan said.
Elyssia Gasparotto was named Youth of the Year.
A former Australian Sporting Representative and champion who has recently completed her academic studies, with a double degree in Aboriginal Professional Practice and Law, the Terrigal local has also successfully fulfilled numerous appointments as a youth representative to the United Nations, including Humanitarian Affairs Peace Ambassador.
At just 25-years old, Gasparotto has made a significant contribution to her local community through countless hours as a professional beach and pool lifeguard.
As one of two female seasonal lifeguards, she is a great role model for equality and diversity.
In October 2020, Gasparotto was invited to speak as part of a webinar series on youth leadership and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which she shared with her Central Coast community and peers.
Volunteer of the Year was jointly awarded to Mervyn Lane and Pamela Price.
After retiring from the NSW Police Force following 40 years of service, Lane became a member of the Terrigal Fifty Plus Leisure and Learning Centre in 2010.
Soon after joining, the Terrigal local became Vice President and was then President, a position he still holds today.
Lane’s dedication to the Fifty Plus Leisure and Learning Centre goes above and beyond the normal requirements of a volunteer.
He manages over 40 other volunteers, as well as the daily running of the centre and the upkeep and maintenance of the building.
Lane also commits in excess of 1,200 hours every year through his work at the centre, a huge achievement that adds significant value to the community.
Hailing from Wyongah, Pamela Price is the founding member of the Doyalson Squadron of the NSW Australian Air League, which was established 33 years ago.
The purpose of the squadron was to establish a female group on the Central Coast and provide equal opportunities and experiences for females through the Australian Air League.
Price’s dedication to the squadron has gone above and beyond, organising camps, excursions, flying experiences and fun and educational activities, which have all been extremely valuable to cadets.
Throughout 2020, Price also ensured that the connection and education did not stop, organising meetings and sessions over zoom with all cadets.
Paul Lemmon was named Sportsperson of the Year.
The Forresters Beach local is an outstanding sportsperson, continuing to perform as one NSW’s most decorated Masters athletes in the ocean and the pool.
Lemmon is also a coach and mentor within the Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club and in the 2019/2020 season, he successfully achieved 21 gold medals across numerous Masters and Pool Rescue championships.
Sue Booth took out the Environmental Award.
The Dooralong resident initiates programs and processes to protect native wildlife and is the wildlife champion of the valleys, west of Wyong.
Booth’s passion for animal welfare motivates her practical measures to protect, treat, rescue and rehabilitate native animals in the areas bordering the Watagan Mountains, and she has been active in the Dooralong and Yarramalong Valleys for the past five years, working actively to eliminate mange within the wombat population, amongst other issues.
This is a labour intensive and time consuming process that Booth not only takes on but searches out in the hopes of eliminating the disease in the valleys.
San Remo’s Lynn Axford took out the Community Service Award.
For the past 33 years, Axford has been a member of the Chain Valley Bay Progress Association and 355 Hall Committee, often as both the Chairperson and Secretary.
Axford has organised numerous activities and services within local halls, such as playgroups and events that raise money for local volunteer bush fire brigade relief.
Under the current restrictions, Axford has organised Jazz in the Park to maintain connection in the community.
In recent years, she has also been instrumental in achieving new playground equipment suitable for people with a disability, as well as shelters over tables and barbecue areas to encourage sun safe get togethers in local parks in the Chain Valley Bay community.
The Business Connecting Communities Award went to Blue Haven’s Kaylene Conway.
Conway’s not-for-profit website, CC365, promotes local events and businesses across the Central Coast.
Conway provides support and advice to business owners and event operators to ensure they maximise their potential, especially now more than ever with an increase in online activities.
In 2020 when restrictions meant events were being postponed and cancelled, Conway shifted her focus to assist families at home with fun and interactive online avenues.
Conway also created a comprehensive list of local businesses that remained open and promoted them at no cost to encourage residents to support local where possible.
In 2020, Conway also started a podcast interviewing local business owners.
The Arts, Culture and Entertainment Award went to Sharon Aldrick.
The Copacabana local is a well known photographer and community arts worker.
In 2020, Aldrick was commissioned to take historically important photographs of the Central Coast during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her exceptional photographs are part of a collection of images that will be exhibited on the Central Coast in 2021.
Aldrick has also dedicated herself to improving arts and culture opportunities on the Central Coast, as well as mentoring emerging artists and artists with disabilities.
Aldrick has also been working with local indigenous dance company, NAISDA, to photographically document the experiences of its talented dancers.
This year’s three Community Service and Activity Highly Commended Awards went to Berkeley Vale, Patonga and Spencer RFS Brigades.
All three brigades were recognised for their outstanding service to their communities and for providing a high level of community based fire and emergency services in protection of community and environment.
“I would like to congratulate each of the winners across the eight categories, as well as all of the nominees,” said Council Administrator, Dick Persson.
“To be recognised for your outstanding contributions to community life is an exceptional honour of which you should all be very proud.
“Australia Day provides an opportunity to reflect on our history, to celebrate a rich tapestry of cultures which make up our community, and to look to the future.
“In doing so, I would like to pay special acknowledgement to the Coast’s Indigenous community, the Darkinjung people, who play a vital role in shaping the future of our region.”