BEN Niland, awarded Port Stephens Citizen of the Year on Saturday, 26 January has a long affiliation with the area.
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He moved to Port Stephens as a young child in 1989.
Mr Niland now calls the area home with his wife Nicole and newborn son Lachlan.
As always the nominees included many notable members of the Port Stephens Community.
Mr Niland said, “I’m humbled, there were other nominees just as deserving of the honour.”
The award recognised Mr Niland for his volunteer work and most recently the ‘Bale out the Drought’ fundraising initiative that raised over $80,000 to help farmers in need.
As the 2018 Citizen of the Year Mr Niland intends to continue his volunteer work, leading by example and encouraging others to get involved.
Mr Niland told News Of The Area, “I think volunteering is rewarding and good for one’s mental health, so I would encourage everyone to think about what they might be able to do to improve their area, and act on it.”
Expressing deep gratitude for the recognition Mr Niland spoke fondly of the support of his family.
Mr Niland said, “I must thank Mum and my late father for instilling in my brothers and I a sense of community and playing our part to improve it.”
“They set a good example which I try to live up to even today and one which I will pass on to my son Lachlan.”
“I also thank my wife, Nicole, who is a constant supporter of the volunteer work I do.” said Mr Niland.
Mr Niland said, “I must wholeheartedly thank Councillor Chris Doohan, the Medowie community, local businesses and even the little kids who bought down their money boxes.”
“Without their commitment the whole thing falls over, it was just amazing.” Mr Niland said.
Cr Doohan said, “I am honoured to have worked with Ben on many fronts, and his acknowledgment as Citizen of the Year is a fitting tribute.”
As secretary of the Medowie Sports and Community Club Mr Niland has played an important role in progressing the facility through council.
Mr Niland said, “It is really important to me, the facility will bring together so many community groups into a place they can call home.”
“Importantly, it can support our people during periods of distress, like bushfires.”
By Kelly MAY