Coffs Harbour’s beloved Helen Mears named NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year

Pink Ladies President Helen Mears with Coffs Harbour Health Campus Facility Support Manager Jo Shaw, helping to hold Helen’s award at the gala ceremony in Sydney.

 

HELEN Mears, the well-loved Coffs Coast volunteer of 41 years, has been named the overall NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year 2021 joint winner, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Coffs Harbour community.

“I’m flummoxed,” Helen told News Of The Area, “seeing all those other lovely volunteers at the Awards event in Sydney, who all do wonderful work, I can’t believe it’s me.”

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Of course, all those who know and work with Helen understand why.

Sharon Fuller from Mid North Coast Local Health District said, “How proud we are of our Coffs Harbour Pink Ladies President, Helen Mears, being named NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year.

“Attending the 15th annual NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards in Sydney our humble, hardworking Helen was recognised for her 40+ years as a United Hospital Auxiliary (UHA) member – 30 of which she has been branch President.

“In that time, the Pink Ladies at Coffs Harbour have donated more than $3 million in equipment to Coffs Harbour hospital.

“Congratulations Helen – this award is much-deserved recognition for our quiet achiever.”

Helen started volunteering when her daughter went to preschool and has so many happy memories from over the years.

“I love working in the gift shop and looking after the babies in the nursery and making things for them.”

Still very much a hard-working Pink Lady at Coffs Harbour Health Campus (CHHC), Helen now works in the café in the new Clinical Services Building.

“I’m getting used to it, it’s all different,” as many things will be different from when Helen first stepped into her UHA role in 1980.

During 2020, when all volunteers were stood down due to the COVID, Helen volunteered to order stock and was heavily involved in the reopening of the gift shop and ensuring it was safe for all volunteers to return.

When the vaccination program was rolled out at CHHC, she volunteered her time, mostly on weekends, to pack care packs for all staff who were receiving the vaccination.

She also volunteers in the Special Care Nursery, provides a monthly homemade morning tea for Mental Health patients and caters for regular meetings at Shearwater Lodge, an accommodation centre for cancer patients.

Gurmesh Singh, Member for Coffs Harbour said, “Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, Helen has gone above and beyond in her volunteering efforts to support the Coffs Coast community.

“We are extremely grateful for her continued commitment to our local community, and I congratulate Helen on this prestigious recognition.”

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said, “Volunteers are the glue that helps bind our communities together and I am always inspired by the incredible people that devote their time and energy to benefit others.

“I congratulate Helen for her outstanding contribution to the Coffs Harbour community.”

Now in its fifteenth year, the Volunteer of the Year Awards have grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across Australia.

 

By Andrea FERRARI

 

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