Local heroes honoured in Australia Day Awards 2023

Northern Beaches

Northern Beaches Council has acknowledged the achievements of outstanding citizens honoured in the Australia Day Awards for 2023.

Recipients included a senior who is a technological whiz, a trail blazing young person with a passion for politics, a young sailor with aspirations of winning a gold medal at the Olympics and well on her way, and a local mother who spends any spare time advocating for the vulnerable.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said the Awards recognise Northern Beaches’ unsung heroes – individuals and organisations making an outstanding contribution to their community and those who have given outstanding service.

“The Awards pay tribute to the special people in our community who have gone above and beyond to help improve the lives of others and contribute to a diverse, friendly, and strong community.

“All the awardees are dedicated, passionate, humble people who want to leave only a positive imprint within our community.

“Congratulations to all the award winners and those that took the time out to nominate the recipients of this year. Your contribution is one of the many reasons the Northern Beaches is such a special place to live. Keep up the good work,” Mayor Regan said.

Citizen of the Year Rachael Leah Jackson was very humble in finding out she had won the award.

“I didn’t believe it at first! I was amazed that someone like me could receive such an honour. I’m just an everyday girl who loves to help others in need. I dedicate this to who I have helped within our community. Everyday people who often don’t have a voice. This one’s for you!

“Thank you for this wonderful award, I’m so grateful for being nominated and recognised as Northern Beaches Citizen of the year.” Ms Jackson said

Australia Day 2023 Award winners

Citizen of the Year: Rachael Jackson of Belrose has assisted many community groups and managed projects and services for individuals in need. As a member of the Frenchs Forest Lions Club, she has been a key player in organising the Christmas Carols at Lionel Watts Oval for the last six years which raises much-needed funds for local charities. She also instigated the restoration of the bell tower for Dee Why Public School centenary. As a single mum of three children, she is an advocate for those with disabilities, victims of domestic violence and homeless. This passion has led her to raise funds for the renovations at Dalwood Spilstead Centre in Seaforth which provides vital services for vulnerable families.

Senior Citizen of the Year: For the last 10 years, Judy Elias of Narrabeen has been instrumental in Computerpals for Seniors – a not-for-profit organisation which assists seniors to become proficient with technology. She innovated BriteSparx – an intergenerational program which partners secondary school students with senior learners to train in digital services and Chatterbox – a social program which creates opportunities for group outings. Judy is also a volunteer host on Northern Beaches Radio hosting a technology educations segment.

Young Citizen of the Year: Noah Smith of Bilgola Plateau already has a repertoire of achievements to his name. His passion is youth and indigenous issues. For the second year he was selected to be the NSW Youth Parliament Member for Pittwater as the Youth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. His advocacy work has resulted in being awarded the Youth Parliamentarian of the Year. Also, a member of Bilgola Surf Life Saving Club he has been awarded the Chairman’s Award for his contribution to the Nippers program. He is also a member of the Northern Beaches Council’s Youth Advisory Group and is on the Student Representative Council at Barrenjoey High School.

Sportsperson of the Year: Evie Saunders of Freshwater has been sailing since the age of eight for Manly Yacht Club and in recent years became a coach there. Her passion and drive has seen her compete in the Youth World Championships, the Open Women’s World Championships various State Championships and she has qualified for the Youth Australian Sailing Team to compete in the Youth World Championships, winning silver. She was the only Australian medallist and the first female to podium at this event in 14 years. Last year she was awarded the Australian and NSW Youth Sailor of the Year. Her current world ranking is 149 in the open category. Her goal is to compete in the Olympics and she is well on her way.

Community Event of the Year: Night at the Barracks presented by Second Sunday was a concert series held over a month (9 Sept – 9 October) at the iconic North Head seeing 19,000 people attend. The event was created during the pandemic by locals, for locals to benefit the wider community with the aim to reinvigorate Manly and the arts industry. Popular Australian artist Jess Mauboy, Symphony Under the Stars, and a performance by Sydney Dance Company were just some of the featured performances.

Outstanding Community Service Awards

There were 10 deserving community members which received an Outstanding Community Service Award.

Andrew Ward of Collaroy Plateau – Founder of Head Above Water an annual 24-hour swim event which raises money for mental illness.

Barbara Harrison of Collaroy – A volunteer for Scouts for 32 years.

Craig Perry of Mona Vale – A dedicated surf lifesaver with Warriewood Surf Life Saving Club for the past 10 years.

Luke Peterson of North Narrabeen – School Captain and member of Northern Beaches Council’s Youth Advisory Group.

Mary Jones of Newport – A long time fundraised and advocate of Northern Beaches Prostate Cancer Support Group, and a volunteer with Girl Guides and the American Field Service for 40 years.

Maureen Eves of Mosman – For 20 years she has supported the Northern Beaches Vision Impaired Group organising activities for them.

Nagi Maehashi of Mona Vale – Founder of RecipeTin Meals, a food charity which donates hundreds of healthy, delicious meals for delivery to vulnerable people in the Northern Beaches community every day.

Penny Philpott of Frenchs Forest – a passionate advocate for the arts across the Northern Beaches as Co-founder of the Forest Youth Theatre, instrumental in establishing Glen Street Theatre, and Vice-President of the Friends of the Manly Art Gallery and Museum.

Sarah Morris of Warriewood – Co-founder of Acts of Kindness, a community outreach program that collects unsold food and donated goods from local businesses and individuals, to provide food hampers for vulnerable people and families.

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