THE official ceremony to announce the nine Port Stephens residents honoured with Port Stephens Annual Awards at this year’s Australia Day celebrations was a very special affair.
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With passionate addresses by Uncle Neville for Welcome to Country, Peter McLean as the Australia Day Ambassador and Mayor Ryan Palmer opening the proceedings, the tone was set for a very moving ceremony.
All nominees for each category were acknowledged for their ongoing contribution to the community and presented with a certificate and pen..
This year, former Councillors Sally Dover and Geoff Dingle were awarded the prestigious title of Freeman of Port Stephens for their extensive dedication to the community and over ten years’ service on Council.
Freeman of Port Stephens is an honour given to individuals who have distinguished themselves with the highest order of community service.
The Citizen of the Year award was taken out by Raymond Terraces’ own Colleen Mulholland-Ruiz, who has been a passionate advocate for the Raymond Terrace community for the past two decades.
Colleen has been an active patron of the Positive Behaviour for Learning framework, which aims to create safe teaching and learning environments for local schools.
Colleen told News Of The Area, “I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this great land, past and present, to the Worimi people I thank you for teaching us about this great land and it’s heritage.”
“To Port Stephens Council, the Australia Day community volunteers and sponsors I thank you for this event and award and congratulate each and every award winner on your hard work and dedication in this community, as well as the many other people within this community doing great work, much of which is unrecognised.”
“I would like to say a very special thank you to the most beautiful people who have taken the time to nominate me for this prestigious award, our five amazing PBL schools we have worked with so closely, our wonderful community groups doing such wonderful things for our community, as well as all our staff, retailers, security and cleaners at MarketPlace for all your support,” she said.
Ten-year-old Mackenzie Bell was the deserving recipient of Young Citizen of the Year for her tireless fundraising efforts for multiple sclerosis. Mackenzie was just two years old when her mother Deanna was diagnosed with the condition, and Mackenzie raised a huge $1,860 by participating in the MS 24 hour Mega Swim at Sydney Olympic Pool.
The remaining awards on the day were presented to a selection of Port Stephens residents from all walks of life.
Robyn Killen was the proud recipient of the inaugural Cultural Endeavour award for her dedication to the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre.
Rugby league stalwart Colin Machon was recognised as Sportsperson of the Year for his pivotal role in the expansion of the competition over the past 25 years.
Three deserving community members were awarded the Port Stephens Medal for their contributions to community.
The worthy recipients were Geoffrey Basser, Leon Lindsay and Peter Clough.
By Rachael VAUGHAN