Hawkesbury City Council proudly hosted this year’s Hawkesbury Australia Day Citizenship and Australia Day Awards at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in Windsor and livestreamed on YouTube on Tuesday morning, 26 January 2020. The awards are an integral part of Australia Day recognising and honouring the outstanding achievements of everyday Australians in the Hawkesbury.
As part of the ceremony, the Welcome to Country was given by Erin Wilkins, a Boorooberongal woman of the Darug Nation. Council acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land, the Darug people, and showed respect for elders past, present and future and extended that respect to all Aboriginal people.
The Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and the Australia Day Awards Ceremony were both livestreamed for the first time on Council’s YouTube channel. It ensured that family, friends and community members could watch the ceremonies from the comfort of their homes in a COVID-Safe way.
“We want to connect with you, and by livestreaming our Australia Day ceremonies, it means we have made it even more accessible for everyone to be a part of these special events,” Mayor Conolly said.
“So whether it was a relative who couldn’t attend or being COVID-Safe, or living in a remote area of the Hawkesbury or an aged care facility, or a person with a condition that meant they couldn’t attend, they could still share in the event,” he said.
“We have been connecting with our community members by increasing our online presence – such as having Council Meetings live on our YouTube channel every fortnight, and last year we adapted our popular Hawkesbury Fest into an online event to showcase the work Council does in the Hawkesbury. We’ve also hosted live webinars and workshops for people to learn new skills through our Libraries, Gallery and Museum.”
The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Patrick congratulated all award recipients, including the 2021 Citizen of the Year – Deputy Group Captain, Hawkesbury Rural Fire Brigade, David Ryan; 2021 Young Citizen of the Year – 15 year old athlete Sam Bonus; and Community Organisation of the Year – Hawkesbury District Volunteers Rural Fire Service.
“Congratulations and thank you for the many wonderful contributions you have made to our Hawkesbury community,” the Mayor said.
Mayor Conolly acknowledged the challenges facing the community since the 2019/2020 bushfires and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but he noted that community support was alive and well in the Hawkesbury and that, in times like these, it makes all the difference.
“Supporting our community and connecting with you is really important to us. I’m continually amazed to see how well our community members support each other too,” the Mayor said.
“Our emergency services volunteers are a perfect example of the support that is readily provided to our community year after year. We will always need the ever present assistance of our emergency services staff and volunteers whether it is during fire, floods, storms or other emergencies.
“Our 2020 Mayoral Christmas Appeal held in December is another way that our community shows great generosity where it really makes a difference,” he said.
“Many gifts for men, women and children were donated as Christmas presents to Hawkesbury Helping Hands, a community charity organisation that has won awards for their commitment to our local community,” he said.
When making the ambassador address at the ceremony, the 2021 Hawkesbury Australia Day Ambassador, Gary ‘Smokey’ Dawson OAM talked about the importance of charity and being involved in our community.
Smokey talked about his experiences as a marathon golfer and his passionate support of Australian charities, having fundraised just over $18 million dollars for charities over the past 25 years, and was an inspirational speaker for all.
The Hawkesbury also welcomed 19 new citizens in the special citizenship ceremony also held on the morning of Australia Day at the Gallery.
“I congratulate all of the Australia Day citizenship candidates on becoming Australian citizens,” Mayor Conolly said.
The new citizens were welcomed from a range of countries: Armenia, United Kingdom, Malta, Nepal, United States of America, Canada, India and Denmark.
2021 Hawkesbury Australia Day Award Recipients
Citizen of the Year
Young Citizen of the Year
Volunteer of the Year
Local Hero Award
Hawkesbury District Volunteers Rural Fire Service
Community Organisation of the Year
Junior Person Sports of the Year
Community Arts Award
Citizen of the Year: David Ryan
David joined the New South Wales Rural Fire Service at the age of 12 in 1972 with Kangarubi Rural Fire Brigade. Dave later moved to the Hawkesbury and joined Grose vale RFB before moving to Hawkesbury Headquarter Rural Fire Brigade in Wilberforce. Dave worked hard with people of the community building relations and further developing the skills of new and existing members. Dave created a second family for many members of the community. Dave became Captain in the mid to late 1990s. In 2000, Dave became a Deputy Group Captain of the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service. His leadership has allowed him to assist and lead team into many forbidding campaigns. Dave has been on many campaign fires and natural disasters including the 1986, 1994, 2001 Black Christmas fires, 2003 Canberra fires, and the 2009 Victoria fires where he was one of the first set of NSW boots on the ground. He also spent weeks on end during 2013 Blue Mountains and Bligh Park fires. He also bravely joined the fight against Gospers Mountain fire and helped during the local floods.
On 12 November 2019 during a catastrophic day, Dave lead a team to safety along with two other group officers after being entrapped in a burn over at Elium Heights where the fires front came roaring out with flame heights of 60 metres and wind gusts high enough to rip metal sheet of tin off buildings. Dave’s decision to stage the crew in Elium Heights allowed every crew member to be able to return home safely. Dave’s hard work and logistical management was also shown at Bilpin in December when large amounts of strike teams of trucks where sent our way. He tasked trucks to different properties and saved many more. On 15 December 2019, Dave assisted crews from Headquarter 9 in the extrication of a male having a heart attack on his property as fire impacted.
In Dave’s 48 years of service he has achieved the National Bravery Award and Long Service Award. Dave’s greatest achievement’s is inspiring his children and grandchildren. He has gained great respect within the community by sacrificing and giving everything he can.
Young Citizen of the Year – Sam Bonus
15 year old Sam Bonus is a quiet young achiever but a fierce athlete with an amazing record of competitive swimming. Sam is a Gold Squad member at Windsor Swim Club, training both in the pool and in open water regularly under the guidance of two different coaches. He has competed at both State and National levels in open water swimming, with the most recent competition being the Rottnest Channel Swim. This is a huge feat even for a trained adult, let alone a 15 year old, swimming through the West Australian open ocean with sting rays, jellyfish and sharks to reach Rottnest Island, 19.7 kilometres away.
Not only has Sam taken part in his sporting conquests and come out with a positive attitude; he has participated in community conversations surrounding mental health and wellbeing in public forums. Those engagements come at quite a personal commitment above and beyond his school, family and swim training schedule. Sam’s next goal is to swim the English Channel.
Volunteer of the Year: Suzi Samuel
Suzi Samuel has dedicated much of her life to giving to others. Predominately in the Hawkesbury, Suzi was the President of Hawkesbury Torch Bearers for Legacy, joining in 2011 and becoming President in 2014. Torchbearers are the fundraising arm of Legacy, who help the families of deceased or injured veterans. Being a military community, the Hawkesbury have many individuals involved in Legacy and in Torchbearers. For years, the Torchbearers ran the Op-Shop behind Richmond Club, moving to the main street once the previous premises were sold. This arm of the group raised thousands of dollars towards Legacy each year.
Suzi, in her time as President, coordinated the local Legacy Badge Day fundraising efforts, as well as many other fundraising initiatives throughout each year, which included quarterly movie nights at Richmond theatre, Christmas in July events and regular morning teas, a fashion parade and yearly stalls at the Legacy Golf Day at Richmond Golf Club.
As part of the Legacy Badge Day fundraising, Suzi began the ‘Legacy Ball’, which was a gala event to kick off Legacy Badge Day every year. It started as an auction event in 2014 and quickly grew to be a much-loved annual event in the Hawkesbury calendar, attended by local politicians, military personnel and many, many residents.
On the Badge Day itself, Suzi and many other volunteers would coordinate children from many of the local schools to attend shopping centres to sell Legacy badges. With these efforts, Suzi and her dedicated team would raise approximately $30,000 each year for Legacy. Unfortunately, last year, Torchbearers as an entity was no longer required as a fundraising arm by Legacy and Torchbearers has now concluded.
The Hawkesbury community benefited as there are a large contingency of military families who are assisted by Legacy itself. The local community valued and respected the Legacy brand and the efforts they make for military families, so they would always give generously.
Suzi received this award as she has spent thousands of hours dedicated to this cause and to this charity. Her passion for Legacy was second to none and her commitment to raise funds with endless fresh ideas was admirable. Her ideas have been successful for raising funds and hosting many events.
Local Hero Award: Karen Stuttle
Karen, and the Mountain of Joy (MOJ) community, have rallied together to support not only the isolated community of Kurrajong Heights and its surrounds, but have extended that support as far as it needs to go. Via word of mouth, and a Facebook group they have a functioning community pantry, plus provide cook ups for elderly, vulnerable, and isolated people as the need arises.
When the bushfires ravaged the Mountains in early 2020, Karen and the Mountain of Joy community were cooking up meals in bulk to feed the displaced, and for the firefighting volunteers. They have been working closely with Strong Nation Community Services, Hawkesbury Helping Hands, Hawkesbury Community Outreach Services Inc. and local services to feed the community, create real and significant human connection for the isolated people.
Karen and the MOJ team work tirelessly, giving all their free time to support the local community. She is the first one up, and last to bed, setting up the pantry (which is on her own driveway) before dawn, working all day as a high school educator, coming home to her family, and packs the pantry away late, in the dark, to allow those struggling with finances to gather what they need on their way home from work. She does all of this out of her own pocket, and in her own time.
Community Organisation of the Year: Hawkesbury District Volunteers – Rural Fire Service
The Rural Fire Service Hawkesbury District consists of 1900 volunteers, in 21 fire brigades, a catering brigade and a communication brigade. The 2019/2020 fire season for Hawkesbury members was nothing short of extraordinary, long and arduous, and very resource intensive. The fire season for the Rural Fire Service Hawkesbury District commenced early in September, when crews were deployed to Queensland and Northern NSW to assist with the firefighting efforts. The deployment continued with crew rotations every three days until 26 October 2019, when a lightning strike occurred on Gospers Mountain, just west of the Hawkesbury district. The fire was located in accessible terrain and crews were continually working on the fire.
During the fire season the Hawkesbury Volunteers attended over 600 incident calls, of which the Gospers Mountain fire was one. During the Gospers Mountain fire, a total of approximately 270,000 hours were committed by Hawkesbury volunteers. Adding to this, so many volunteers donated their time, by way of using holidays, Long Service Leave days, as well as accrued days off and many used unpaid leave days. Family life was actually put on hold, with many volunteers not spending time at home with families over the Christmas period.
The aim of the volunteer members in the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service is always to protect life and property. During this fire season, in excess of 2500 homes were saved by volunteer firefighters, with no loss of life. In addition to this, volunteers are always available to the residents for any assistance or advice needed in protecting their properties. Community information is vital to help residents understanding prior to the fire season.
Environmental Award: WIRES Hawkesbury
WIRES Hawkesbury has made a significant contribution to our local environment during/since the fires.
The local wildlife has benefitted, and in turn, our community; it was comforting knowing WIRES were on hand and supporting our wildlife in a challenging time.
WIRES have been integral in supporting disaster response and recovery for wildlife during the fires; this has been crucial to the recovery of our environment.
Junior Sportsperson of the Year: Holly Dalrymple
Holly has represented Hawkesbury City Athletics at State level every year since she was eight years old with no formal training. A total of seven years. She has also represented at Zone, Region and State levels every year throughout her school years. At the age of 12, Holly was awarded the Boxing Kangaroo award by the Australian Olympic Committee for her excellence in sport during her primary years. Holly has played soccer for the last six years. Her first five years with Richmond winning two grand finals and this year was selected for Representative soccer for Nepean. She has also been retained for 2021 season. Holly’s achievements for the past year: Arndell Junior Sportsperson of the year. Cross Country Age Champion Zone Cross Country Age Champion Regional Cross Country Age Champion CIS Silver Medallist Triathlon Zone Age Champion Futsal Players Player Award Football/Soccer Players Player Award HZSA U15 Football Representative Aices Football Runners up Broke and Holds 2 x School Athletics Records Broke and Holds 2 x Zone Athletics Records Swimming Representative Zone and Regional.
As a result of her Cross Country and Athletics achievements, Holly was invited to represent Australia for Cross Country and Athletics this year on a sports tour for elite athletes (cancelled due to COVID).
Holly has represented in many sports but her stand outs are Athletics, Cross Country, Soccer and Swimming and she is extremely proud to be part of the Hawkesbury and Nepean sporting teams. Holly always exhibits a fine example of sportsmanship to her fellow teammates and her desire to continually improve and better herself encourages her peers and the other athletes within the Hawkesbury sporting community and school.
Holly is an excellent athlete and valued member of the sporting community of Hawkesbury City Athletics and Nepean Football Association who exceeds the requirements and expectations for both the awards. She is a talented young athlete who has achieved many sporting successes through her commitment and determination to improve and be the best she can be.
She always displays positive sportsmanship and upholds the true spirit of Little Athletics. Holly is deserving of the Junior Sports Person of the Year in recognition of her success and a Little Athletics Athlete in the Hawkesbury community, especially in her middle and long distance running at all levels of competition. Holly has also been awarded our centre’s most prestigious award ‘The Pearson Shield’ for her exemplary display of fraternity, integrity, courage and perseverance and challenge. She was also awarded Outstanding Athlete and Champion in her respective age group. Holly has represented Hawkesbury since she was seven years old and she has represented Hawkesbury City at State for six years. Holly’s sporting achievements are not just confined to our Centre and Little Athletics but expand well across all the sporting disciplines that she participates in including her numerous sporting achievements at school. Holly’s ambitions, sportsmanship and accomplishments compliment the stellar community of past award recipients and make her highly deserving of the honour and opportunity bestowed upon her by being awarded on of these awards.
Community Arts Award: Arabella Logan
Arabella Logan has been a young concert violinist member of the Sydney Youth Orchestra (SYO) for the past six years and over the past three years she was invited to join the new SYO – Western Sydney Youth Orchestra (WSYO). Arabella regularly tours, performs in concert halls in Australia and New Zealand including regional NSW music outreach programs with the WSYO. Arabella Logan was an invited young violinist to perform at the Macquarie Towns Community Orchestra 2019 Christmas Concert.
Arabella is the founder and musical director of ‘Arabella & Friends’ an ensemble of young Hawkesbury musicians who perform in the Hawkesbury mainly for the aged care and retirement residents prior to the COVID-19 restrictions for the past three years. Arabella performed the Last Post at the Anzac dawn Service at Kurrajong on ANZAC Day in 2020. She also received a Hawkesbury Achievement Music Award in 2019. Arabella is an active member of Rowing NSW & Penrith Rowing Club, competing at regular rowing regattas in a single, double, quad and eight rowing skull, including coxswaining.
Please visit Council’s homepage www.hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au or Like and Follow Hawkesbury Events Facebook www.facebook.com/hawkesburyevents to see the photos from the Australia Day Awards and the Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony.