Annual awards

There are people in our community who go that little bit further, open their arms a little bit wider and give that little bit extra to inspire us all to make every day better.

We value the outstanding contributions made every day within the Port Stephens community. The Port Stephens Annual Awards presented on Australia Day each year provide an opportunity for Council to formally recognise the amazing efforts of groups and individuals from around our region.

2023 Port Stephens Annual Awards nominees

Alice is a young and enthusiastic sports enthusiast who has made a significant impact in the world of touch football and netball.

With over a decade of dedicated involvement in the Nelson Bay Touch Football Association, Alice is a longstanding member of the Association. At just 15 years of age, Alice achieved an incredible milestone, representing the state of New South Wales in the realm of Touch Football with an all women and ages team. This achievement is a testament to her dedication, hard work and passion for the sport.

Alice's talents extend beyond touch football. She is also a valued member of the Nelson Bay Netball Association, which secured the State Championship in 2023. Her contributions to the team have been invaluable, demonstrating her exceptional leadership skills, teamwork and dedication to excellence.

Alice's passion and dedication to sports extend beyond her achievements. She runs a touch football coaching squad, where she promotes physical fitness, teamwork, confidence, mental resilience, connection, empowerment, life skill development and healthy life choices.

Through her coaching, Alice inspires young athletes to strive for their best, empowering them to develop essential life skills that will serve them well beyond their time on the field. Alice's achievements serve as an inspiration to us all, demonstrating the power of hard work, dedication and passion in achieving our goals.

Alice’s contributions inspire others to pursue their dreams and strive for excellence.

Meagan is highly skilled and passionate healthcare professional with a wealth of experience in nursing and community care.

As a Registered Nurse, Community Care Clinical Nurse, and Woundcare Clinical Nurse Consultant, Meagan has dedicated her career to improving the lives of others.

From 2002 to 2023, Meagan served as the creator, owner and Director of Care For You at Home, where she earned a reputation for her exceptional leadership skills and commitment to providing top-quality care. She was also deeply involved in various community organizations, including The Port Stephens Community Services Forum, The Association of Private Nursing Services, and Tomaree Breast Cancer Support Group.

In 2016, Meagan was nominated as the first affiliate member of the Nelson Bay RSL Sub Branch, a testament to her unwavering dedication to serving her community. She has also been a long-term sponsor of various sports clubs, demonstrating her commitment to supporting local initiatives.

In 2022, Meagan took her passion for care to the next level by developing a Dementia and Memory Loss Activity Centre. This innovative center provides respite for loved ones and carers of people living with dementia and memory loss, offering much-needed support and relief. Thanks to Meagan's tireless efforts, the center has provided 3,739 hours of respite to 25 clients in its first trading year.

Meagan's work has been recognised by Dementia Australia who commended her on her passion and dedication to people living with dementia and their well-being, recognising her significant contributions to the field of healthcare.

Meagan's commitment to our community makes her a true inspiration to us all.

Abby is a shining example of what it means to be an active and engaged member of the community. As the captain of Irrawang High School, she leads by example, inspiring her peers to give their all both on and off the field.

Abby's commitment to making a difference doesn't stop there. She's also a proactive member of the Council Youth Advisory Panel, where she actively contributes her ideas and insights to help shape the future of her community. Her passion for dance is evident in her involvement with Dance Xtreme, where she's an integral member of the team, always pushing herself to be the best she can be.

And let's not forget her involvement with the Medowie Girl Guides! Abby is working hard towards her Queens Guide Award, which will see her represent Girl Guides Australia at an International Leadership Program in India in January 2024. Her dedication to the program is inspiring, and we have no doubt she'll make a huge impact on the world stage.

But it's not just her impressive achievements that make Abby stand out. She's also a kind, caring, and compassionate young individual who's always looking for ways to give back to her community. Whether it's raising money for charities, organising community events, or participating in school activities, Abby's commitment to making a difference is truly commendable.

It's no surprise, that Abby has been recognised for her outstanding contributions. She's received numerous awards for her leadership and community involvement, and we know that she'll continue to work hard for years to come.

Cassandra is a true superhero in every sense of the word. Her unwavering dedication to serving her community as a volunteer firefighter for over 15 years has earned her the respect and admiration of everyone who knows her.

As a Centralised Air Breathing Apparatus operator and Truck driver, Cassandra has faced some of the most dangerous and challenging situations imaginable. She's assisted the SES during floods and worked tirelessly to reduce the risk of bushfires in the Port Stephens area through her hands-on approach and HR duties.

As a Rural Fire Service Association delegate, she's helped local RFS brigades secure vital grants and raised awareness on key issues to be taken to the Commissioner. And let's not forget her participation in the Fingal Bay brigade Santa Run - an event that brings joy and happiness to countless children each year.

Cassandra's compassion for all is evident in her work with Wildlife In Need of Care (WINC). As an on-call support member, she's saved countless native species and nursed them back to health for release back into the wild. Her love and care for animals are truly inspiring, and we're lucky to have her in our community.

She's also donated thousands of dollars to children in need over the last two years, providing financial support to families facing hardship and ensuring that no child goes without. And let's not forget the countless meals she's provided for families with a sick child in the hospital. Cassandra's generosity and kindness know no bounds, and her selflessness is a testament to the kind of person she is.

Cassandra is a true gem in our community. Her dedication, compassion, and unwavering commitment to making a difference are an inspiration to us all. We're honoured to recognise her and grateful for everything she does to make Port Stephens a better place.

A woman who's passionate about music, community, and empowering people. Diana is not just any ordinary member of a choir, she is a founder of the SeaSide Singers choir, which has been making sweet sounds in Port Stephens for years.

Through her musical expertise, Diana has been able to offer ongoing education, purpose, skills, and development to members of the choir. But that's not all. Diana is a powerhouse of community involvement, having been a member of Probus Club Port Stephens, Fellowship of Australian Writers, Tomaree Cultural Development Group, Port Stephens Council Cultural Committee, and Rotary Club of Nelson Bay.

Her contributions have been recognised through numerous outstanding awards. Diana is a firm believer in giving back and has initiated many performance opportunities for groups. In fact, she inaugurated the first Choral Festival in Port Stephens, which was a great success. She’s also been a finalist in the Port Stephens Council Cultural Committee, received the Certificate of Recognition for Women in Leadership from the View Club, and was a member of the Port Stephens Probus Committee.

In 2022, she was invited to be a guest speaker for the View Club and completed judging short stories for the local primary school Short Story Competition run by the local Rotary Club.

What's next for Diana? Her contributions to the Port Stephens community are far from over. She is planning to lecture pro-bono on 'How to Write a Memoir', which is sure to be an enlightening and enriching experience for all.

A passionate and dedicated member of the Port Stephens community for almost half a century. With her unwavering commitment to local issues, Fran has become a well-known voice for Tilligerry Landcare and Tilligerry Community Association. Her 47-year tenure as a local primary school teacher has given her the experience and expertise to work with people from all walks of life.

Fran assisted in starting the Port Stephens Arts Council, an was a devoted supporter of for many years, she has collaborated with its members on organizing events at Tanilba House. Her efforts to start the Christmas Carols have helped bring joy and festive cheer to the community every year.

For the past 12 years, Fran has been the driving force behind the TilliFest, an annual event that showcases the community's talents and creativity. She’s also working on several projects aimed at enhancing the natural beauty of Tilligerry, from street trees on Tilligerry streets, local plants in local parks, to protecting the area's native biodiversity and bushland through the upcoming Tilligerry Place Plan.

Fran's most recent achievement was organising the Tilligerry Open Gardens event, which proved to be a hit with locals and tourists alike, and brought some much-needed tourism to the area.

Fran's tireless commitment to the community goes beyond these accomplishments. She is one of the founders of Econetwork and has been an active member of the Tilligerry Precinct, Council 355c committees, Tilligerry Habitat office bearer, Secretary, and President since the inception of the Tilligerry Community Association.

Fran's unwavering dedication to the community is truly inspiring, and her contributions have made a significant impact on the lives of many. Thank you for all your efforts in helping to make our community a better place.

A multi-talented singer, songwriter, and performing artist whose music is hitting the air waves across Australia and beyond.

As a proud Worimi and Gamilaroi man, Jacob has used his music to share his unique experiences and observations of life with the world. And boy, has he been successful! With a string of impressive achievements under his belt, Jacob has become one of the most celebrated artists in the country.

From performing alongside some of Australia's biggest music names to gracing the stages of major events, Jacob has done it all. He has even earned critical acclaim for his debut single 'Bullyman', which won the prestigious 2019 National Indigenous Story Award Grand Prize and climbed to the top of the iTunes Alternative Chart and All Genres Chart.

Jacob's talents don't end there, he also facilitated the NATSIMO SCREEN COMPOSER INTENSIVE program, which explores the key practices of screen composing in production settings. As a result of his hard work and dedication, he was invited by Sounds Australia to perform at their inaugural ‘A Taste of Australia’ showcase at the 2023 CMA Fest in Nashville, USA, alongside international exports Morgan Evans and Seaforth.

Jacob's passion for music and writing has led him to develop a unique creative writing course that has been undertaken by ARIA award winning artists and in school-based settings. This course provides a holistic and engaging learning experience that helps students develop their creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and practical writing skills. With Jacob's guidance, students can unleash their inner artist and learn how to express themselves through music and writing.

Jacob Ridgeway is a force to be reckoned with. His music and writing have touched the hearts and minds of people all over the world, and his unwavering commitment to his craft is truly inspiring.

We can't wait to see what he does next and are excited to recognise your work in Port Stephens!

A remarkable woman with a heart of gold and a passion for all things Lego! Jacqueline is a retired Navy cadet instructor and Scout Leader who has been giving back to her community by running monthly Lego Clubs for children and adults. But that's not all, she has also launched her own business, Stokes Brick Builders, which caters to Lego enthusiasts of all ages.

Every month, Jacqueline generously gives her time to help children develop their social skills in a safe and nurturing environment. Through building and creating with Lego, children learn valuable lessons in problem-solving, teamwork, and communication. They also get to exercise their motor skills and explore their creative side, all while having fun!

But it's not just the kids who benefit from Jacqueline's Lego Clubs. She also hosts adult nights for Lego fans who may struggle in crowded environments. For many neurodivergent individuals, finding a safe and welcoming space to socialise can be a daunting task. That's where Jacqueline's adult nights come in - a place where they can connect with like-minded individuals and build relationships based on shared interests.

Jacqueline's community events are more than just an opportunity to play with Lego. They’re a place where people of all ages can come together, build comradery, and form meaningful connections. Her dedication to creating a safe and inclusive space for everyone is truly inspiring, and it's clear that her work is making a real difference in the lives of those around her.

It's refreshing to see someone make a positive impact in our community. Through Jacqueline's passion for Lego and her commitment to helping others, she's a brilliant example of what it means to be a kind and compassionate human being.

Matthew resonates with many young and budding footballers at Medowie Football Club. An excellent coach, and a mentor too many, he's revolutionised the way young players perceive the sport.

His innovative and successful buddy program, which connects young players with their senior counterparts, has earned him the coveted title of Coach of the Year award for Northern N.S.W Football in July 2023.

Matthew's contributions to the club go beyond just coaching. He is a committee coach for two zone teams, coaches the u15-a grade team, and is on the Sports Council. Matthew's dedication to the sport and the community is evident from the time he spends training and supporting the players on game day at Yulong Oval in Medowie (you’ll find him there almost every night).

The buddy program initiated by Matthew has been a game-changer for the club. It has not only helped young players gain valuable insights from senior players but has also fostered a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship among the players. The program has also helped in breaking down the barriers between the different age groups of players, by creating a more inclusive and collaborative environment at the club.

Matthew's infectious enthusiasm and passion for the sport have inspired many young players to pursue their dreams of becoming professional footballers. His coaching style is unique and tailored to suit the individual needs of every player, making them feel valued and respected. He is a coach who leads by example and is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that his players get the best possible training and support.

Thanks to Matthew's efforts, Medowie Football Club has not only become a hub for football enthusiasts but also a community that values inclusivity, teamwork, and dedication. The impact of Matthew's coaching and mentorship is evident in the way the players carry themselves on and off the field, and the accolades and awards that the club has received over the past few years.

Matthew's assistance to the Medowie Football Club has been invaluable, and his success serves as a testament to his dedication and commitment to the sport which has gained Matthew a seat on the Board of Directors for Newcastle Football Club. He’s a coach who has not only transformed the way players approach the sport but has also left a memorable mark on the hearts and minds of everyone associated with the club.

A talented and dedicated individual who has been instrumental in bringing positive change to her community. With a passion for volunteering and a drive to make a difference, Meryl has served in various roles at the Probus Club of Port Stephens, including Treasurer, Secretary, and Correspondence Secretary. Through her tireless efforts, Meryl has transformed book-keeping and automated databases, streamlining operations and making the club more efficient.

Meryl's also created the "Tried & Tested Family Recipes" cookbook, a delightful collection of recipes that has become a staple in many households. As a Publicity Officer or the last 2 years, and part of the Management Committee for the last 8 for Port Stephens Community Arts Centre, Meryl is now the President and Crown Land Manager, where she continues to inspire and lead by example.

Meryl's commitment to her community is inspiring, and she has made significant contributions to several organisations. Her efforts in securing Leon Lindsays' Port Stephens Medal, Michael Francis Culture Endeavour Award, Bev Lee’s Port Stephens Award and organising the Port Stephens Art Committee Art Prize (amongst many more), have left a lasting impact on the community. Meryl has also created stunning murals at various locations around Port Stephens for all to admire.

One of Meryl's most significant contributions has been her involvement in Caring for Our Port Stephens Youth (COPSY) – Jupiter as Secretary, who oversaw the booking keeping duties, Meryl also applied for funds through various grants for the organisation. Her fundraising efforts have also been vital in ensuring that COPSY can continue to provide these essential services.

In all that she does, Meryl is a wonderful example of what it means to be a community leader. Her dedication, hard work and compassion have made a real difference in the lives of countless locals, and her contributions valued by many.

In 2012, a group of kind-hearted individuals who were directors and members of Nelson Bay Golf Club, came together to make a difference in the lives of those battling cancer. They established a transport service that would take patients to their medical appointments, scans, and treatments in Newcastle and Maitland metropolitan areas. This group has been actively providing their services since then, and the impact they've made is nothing short of incredible.

To date, this group has provided 819 individual trips, covering a distance of over 88,380km. That's a remarkable feat, and it's all thanks to the dedication and commitment of the committee and more than 55 volunteer drivers. But their contribution doesn't end there…

These volunteers don't just provide transport, they offer emotional support and social interaction to the patients they serve. For many of these patients, going to medical appointments can be a lonely and daunting experience. But thanks to this group, they have someone by their side, someone to talk to and someone who cares.

The committee, led by Neville Stanfield, Richard Yeomans, John Every, Barry Elliot, Max Pride, Ian Woodhill and others, have done an incredible job of keeping this service running so smoothly. They've created a system that ensures patients get to their appointments on time, every time. And they've built a network of volunteers who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of other community members.

It's hard to put into words just how much this group's efforts mean to those they serve. But if you ask any of the patients who have used their services, they'll tell you that this group is a lifeline. They've made a difficult time a little easier, a little less stressful and a little less lonely.

So, to the committee, the volunteer drivers, and everyone involved in this incredible initiative, thank you. Your dedication, hard work, and compassion have made a real difference in the lives of so many local residents. You're an inspiration to us all!

Are you looking to get involved in a community initiative that not only brightens up the local area but also helps those in need? Look no further than the Nelson Bay Civic Pride Group!

Passionate and dedicated Coordinator Margaret Wilkinson, along with her incredible team of volunteers including Rory Milne President, Linda Hall, Bobbi Vicary and Judy Washington, this group has been tirelessly working to maintain the beautiful gardens in the Nelson Bay CBD since 2018.

This project, initiated by the Tomaree Business Chamber (now Business Port Stephens), has been a resounding success. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the team, the gardens are always beautifully planted and maintained, providing a stunning visual feature for tourists and Port Stephens locals alike.

Whether you have a green thumb or just a passion for helping others, this group welcomes all volunteers with open arms. So why wait? Join Margaret, Rory, Ian, Judy, and the rest of the team today.

Thank you to the Nelson Bay Civic Pride Group for the positive impact that you've made in the Nelson Bay CBD.

Director until late 2023 of Birubi Point Community Preschool, who has been dedicatedly serving the community for the last 36 years. Ruth has welcomed over 1000 families in the preschool, and her impact on the community and its people has been remarkable.

Under Ruth's leadership, Birubi Point Community Preschool has become a world-class education facility that provides affordable, inclusive, and healthy school readiness programs for local families. She has always prioritized the needs of the children in the community and ensures that they receive the best possible education.

Ruth stays updated with the national curriculum and employs highly-qualified teachers who are committed to providing quality education to the children. She also expands the services to support high-needs children, making sure that no child is left behind.

Apart from providing quality education, Birubi Point Community Preschool has also been a stable place of employment for a number of early education teachers in the local community. Ruth's leadership has created a nurturing environment that attracts the best talent in the field.

Ruth's unwavering commitment to education and the community has made a significant impact on the lives of the people in our community.

Imagine waking up to the sound of koalas munching eucalyptus leaves every morning. This is the reality for Sharon, a woman who has dedicated her time to preserving koalas at the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary. For years, Sharon has been an active volunteer, giving her all to ensure these beloved animals are protected from harm and extinction.

Recently, she took on the role of Education Officer, travelling to local schools, preschools and service groups as well as visitors to the Koala Sanctuary during holidays, to give talks about koala safety and ways to save these iconic creatures from danger. Her passion for koalas and her deep-rooted desire to make a difference has inspired her to take on this challenging role, and it's one that she thoroughly enjoys.

The Port Stephens community has warmly welcomed Sharon's efforts. We all appreciate her dedication and hard work in helping to preserve these precious animals. Koalas are an iconic symbol of Australia, and they are a vital part of the ecosystem. Their presence has put Port Stephens on the national and international map, and the community is aware of the need to reduce the many risks to this iconic creature.

Sharon's work is a great example of the power of volunteering and the difference that one person can make. Her tireless efforts have helped to raise awareness about the importance of koala safety, and her talks have inspired young minds to take action and make a difference. She is a true champion of these endearing animals, and her work has touched the hearts of everyone in Port Stephens.

Sharon's work as a volunteer and Education Officer at the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary is a testament to the power of dedication, passion, and hard work.

We're grateful for her tireless efforts and appreciate the difference she has made in preserving these Aussie icons.

A young, talented softball player who has already achieved so much in his short career. With his incredible talent, dedication, and passion for the game, Sonny has become a force to be reckoned with on the softball field.

As a member of the Strikers Softball Club, Sonny has proven time and time again that he's a natural-born athlete. He's a fierce competitor who always gives 110% on the field, pushing himself to new heights and inspiring his teammates to do the same.

Sonny's skills and hard work have not gone unnoticed. He was selected for the Country NSW under 14 team, a remarkable achievement that speaks to his talent and dedication. He also went on to represent Australia at the Easter Classic tournament, where he competed against some of the best young softball players in the world.

Sonny's commitment to the softball community doesn't end with his impressive playing record. He's also a proud member of the Bitz program, which aims to develop and mentor umpires in the sport. Between his own games, Sonny takes time to give back to the community, sharing his knowledge and expertise with younger umpires and helping to create a stronger, more knowledgeable softball community.

It's no wonder that Sonny has been endorsed by Rebecca Jenkins, NDSA registrar. His dedication, passion, and commitment to the sport is truly inspiring, and we have no doubt that Sonny will continue to make a huge impact on the softball world in the years to come.

We're proud to have him as a nominee, and we can't wait to see all the amazing things he'll achieve in the future.

Making a nomination

Key dates:
  • Applications open: 1 January 2023
  • Applications close: 13 November 2023
  • Awards ceremony: 26 January 2024
How to apply:
  1. Read the Port Stephens Annual Awards Guidelines (PDF 166KB)
  2. Visit and complete the online application.


A distinguished citizen who has contributed eminent service to the community over many years.

A citizen which has made a significant and demonstrable contribution to the community over the preceding 12 month period. The nominee should be an inspirational role model who has made a positive impact on the Port Stephens community.

Awarded to a young citizen (25 years or under) who has made a significant and demonstrable contribution to the community. The nominee should be an inspirational role model who has made a positive impact on the Port Stephens Community.

Awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community. Nominees should demonstrate community leadership, promote the principles of cultural diversity and social equity; showing a tireless approach to community life and participation.

Awarded to individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to the sporting community of Port Stephens or who have attained a high level of achievement in the wider sporting community.

Awarded to individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to the cultural community of Port Stephens or who have attained a high level of achievement in the wider cultural community.

Awarded to individuals, organisations or groups who have shown significant service to the environment of Port Stephens over the past 12 months. This could have been demonstrated by efforts to preserve the environment, reduce litter and improve recycling outcomes or the use of the Return and Earn scheme to fundraise for a meaningful cause.


The nominations are reviewed by an assessment panel made up of the Mayor, General Manager, 3 Councillors, 3 community members from the Port Stephens Australia Day Coordinating Committee and 1 Freeman by invitation of the Mayor.

The Assessment Panel is responsible for choosing the category for which the individual’s or group’s nomination will be assessed and awarded, with the assessment based on information provided by the nominator. Panel members are forbidden to base their decisions on existing or prior knowledge of the nominated person.


All nominations are strictly confidential and the information provided will be used only to assist the assessment panel in their determination. The person being nominated should not be approached for information or advised of their nomination at any stage. This avoids embarrassment or disappointment should an award not be recommended by the assessment panel.

For more information, please read the guidelines.

Previous recipients

Citizen of the Year – Brooke Roach

Brooke Roach has dedicated his life to creating a better future for everyone in the local community, with a particular focus on young Aboriginal people.

Brooke works as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Hunter River High School and has volunteered his time to lead the Raymond Terrace Magpies Rugby League Football Club as its President, co-coach the premiership-winning C-Grade Men's team, work with community organisations, and introduce sports and the associated discipline to many people's lives. Brooke is an advocate for better access to services for Aboriginal people across our whole community, and continues to inspire.

Brooke is a Raymond Terrace legend, hard worker, a community leader and aspires to make life better for others. He has made a lasting impression through his passion to improve the wellbeing of people in Port Stephens.

Young Citizen of the Year – Emma Newcombe

Emma Newcombe is an outstanding student, contributing positively to the local community through a wide range of activities and volunteer work.

Emma has been a driving force in the development of the Café Alesco, becoming an integral part of its operation and management. If you’ve ever visited Café Alesco in the Raymond Terrace Library you might recognise Emma from front of house operations and her excellent customer service skills.

Alesco aims to reduce barriers to accessing education, so students are able to engage and participate in education to the best of their abilities, whilst gently challenging their potential.

Emma upholds Alesco’s values, is respectful and is always willing to help her teachers, peers, local community and encompasses the Alesco spirit in all she does – overall she’s an outstanding young lady.

Freeman of Port Stephens – Darrell Dawson

Darrell has been prominent in protecting native wildlife and habitat for the benefit of the Port Stephens community. Through his involvement in numerous committees, he’s been instrumental in the development of some of the most iconic environmental features of Port Stephens. This includes the protection of the Tomaree National Park and working towards protecting the waters of Port Stephens from pollution and large scale commercial aquaculture development. He was also instrumental in the protection of the Mambo Wetlands and large areas of local Koala habitat.

Darrell successfully established the grassroots organisation EcoNetwork Port Stephens Inc. in 1993 that now represents 30 affiliated community groups, and businesses and has a membership of approximately 3000 individuals in Port Stephens.

This has all been done with the aim of bringing together the various active environmental and sustainability groups in the LGA, under one network.

Sportsperson of the Year — Jodi Cassar

Jodi Cassar has been an active role model for netball in Port Stephens for over 3 decades now and is the current President of Port Stephens Netball Association.

Jodi spends many hours of her time ensuring that grassroots participation in the game of netball is provided for girls and boys, young and old across our community.

Accessibility and inclusion is an important role of the game that Jodi promotes with all programs offered under Netball NSW, being offered at Port Stephens Netball Association. This includes the recently introduced Inclusive Netball Uniforms policy introduced by Netball Australia and the growth in boys and mens pathways. She’s also helped to instigate the inclusion of Acknowledgement of Country prior to all meetings and at the commencement of each playing day.

Jodi is a Life Member of Medowie Netball Club and also Port Stephens Netball Association and was awarded the Netball NSW Dot McHugh OAM Administrators Award in late 2022 in recognition of the outstanding leadership and management of the administration of netball in the Port Stephens community.

Cultural Endeavour — Gabrielle Carrick

For the last 2 years, Gabrielle Carrick has been the graphic designer for all Tomaree Museum Association (TMA) exhibitions and artistic presentations. Gabrielle leads the design exhibition team for TMA pop up museums, such as D'albora Nelson Bay, Port Stephens Art Competition and the exhibition at the Nelson Bay Visitor Information Centre.

Gabrielle has volunteered her time and used her considerable expertise gained through a lifetime of work in this area to produce very professional results for the TMA and the Port Stephens Community.

Her contribution and passion towards the preservation and promotion of Port Stephens cultural and artistic heritage is outstanding.

Environmental Award — Casey Freeman

Casey Freeman is a young mother to 3 girls and is a passionate Koala carer, volunteering with the Koala rescue team at Port Stephens Koala Hospital. With her work, she actively contributes to the Conservation of the Port Stephens Koala population.

Not only is Casey an active volunteer, she’s passionate about making a difference in Koala conservation and, with her daughters, she developed, manufactured and installed Koala signage across the LGA to help drive Koala awareness. These signs were recognised and supported across the LGA.

Casey is now working with council staff on a new program of Koala awareness signage.

Port Stephens Medals

The Port Stephens Medal is awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community.

  • Heather Buckingham

For the last 30 years, Heather Buckingham has played a major role at the St John's Parish Pantry. Heather is a continual force, collecting donations and volunteering every week to provide food and kindness to needy families. For most of her 30 years with the pantry, Heather has coordinated Christmas Hampers for families who can’t afford to buy gifts.

Heather has dedicated decades of work to our local community including welcoming and supporting families by helping with employment and study, providing guidance with life in a new country, celebrating birthdays, including them in family Christmas celebrations and even attending school grandparent days.

  • Robert Bull

Robert Bull was a founding member of the Raymond Terrace Men’s shed in 2010, and has been president of the shed 9 times. He’s now an active and lifetime member in Raymond Terrace and also a member of Australian Men’s Shed Association.

As initiator of the Raymond Terrace men's shed band, Robert has been responsible for the shed performing at many external public functions and nursing homes within the community.

He works closely with the Raymond Terrace RSL in planning Anzac Day ceremonies and instigated the men’s shed contributions at the Back to King Street Heritage Festival.

Robert’s contribution to the Port Stephens community doesn’t end there – he’s also a major contributor in providing meals at a local cafe for members of the community in need.

Citizen of the Year – November Sheehan

November Sheehan is the founder of Heart Letter Pen, an online initiative created during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist people feeling lonely, anxious and isolated. Humble, but infinitely encouraging, November donates significant time to manage the group’s Facebook page, coordinate drop-off and collection of boxes across the local community, and individually check, sort and mail card batches.

Young Citizen of the Year – Brigid Douglas

Brigid Douglas is a volunteer gymnastics coach at PCYC Port Stephens, generously volunteering an estimated 350 hours a year to support programs for young people. Brigid has built wonderful relationships with her students and the community, and is an example of hard work and dedication to the sport of gymnastics. Brigid also helps with the club’s school holiday programs and works closely with NSW Police on the Fit for Life program.

Sportsgroup of the Year – Clontarf Foundation

The Clontarf Foundation helps to improve the education, discipline, life-skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. The Foundation has helped to make a difference in the lives of young people in Port Stephens by running programs with students at Hunter River High and Irrawang High School.

Cultural Endeavour – Madeline Crockett

Madeline Crockett gives back to her community by volunteering her time at the Twilight markets in Fingal Bay. Among her many duties, Madeline helps to organise signs and COVID-19 updates, filling market spots, advertising via social media and providing updates to the community. Previously Madeline spent time volunteering to assist her fellow students with their school assignments.

Environmental Award – Leonie Bryson

Leonie Bryson is the vice-president and a key member of Climate Action Port Stephens. Leonie has been actively involved in educating the Port Stephens community about climate change and sustainability and has worked on events such as School Strike for Climate. Through her dedication and hard work, Leonie secured grant funding to install renewable street furniture in Raymond Terrace – known as a Smart Solar Bench – that uses energy from the sun to enable users to charge their phones and connect to Wi-Fi.

Freeman of Port Stephens –

  • Kevin Stokes

Kevin Stokes is a founding member of the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. A passionate advocate for the environment, Kevin has spent more than 36 years volunteering at the Gardens. He has worked tirelessly to develop and maintain the Gardens’ traditions, its volunteer basis and its focus on displaying and conserving Australian plants.

  • John Nell

As a former Councillor, John Nell contributed 34 years to Port Stephens Council both as an East Ward Councillor and Mayor. He is the second longest-serving Councillor on Port Stephens Council. John is passionate about the Port Stephens environment and was a long-standing member of many committees including the Marine Park Committee, Estuary Management Committee and Tomaree Sports Council. During his tenure, he was a strong advocate for the environment and oversaw improvements to Nelson Bay town centre, more shared paths and new sporting infrastructure.

  • Ken Jordan

Ken Jordan was first elected to Port Stephens Council in 2004 and represented the West Ward community for 17 years. He served as Deputy Mayor from 2011 to 2012 and was an active community group member. Ken was passionate about creating greater job opportunities for local young people.
During his tenure, he helped to reshape the developer contributions plan to increase funding for local projects and was a strong advocate for the Men’s Shed movement locally. He was also a passionate member of the Seaham Park & Wetlands Committee and West Ward Sports Council.

Citizen of the Year — John Chambers

Since he retired from school teaching, John has thrown himself into supporting his local community. John has implemented many community programs to support our most vulnerable including a driver training program; a furniture bank which sees John collecting, storing and distributing household furniture to families in need; and a host of other initiatives. John spends a staggering 40 plus hours a week volunteering.

Young Citizen of the Year — Daniel Howard

Daniel has been a basketball coach and mentor with PCYC for the past 9 years since he was 16 years old. In April last year, in response to COVID lockdowns, he launched Coach Dan Skills and Drills on YouTube and Facebook to keep in touch with local basketball teens. His channels have attracted over 400 followers and helped to motivate local teens to keep fit during the lockdown.

Port Stephens Medals —

The Port Stephens Medal is awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community.

  • Dennis Peters

Dennis is the recently retired captain of the Raymond Terrace Fire and Rescue team. For 23 years, Dennis has been on the front line in countless firefighting and rescue efforts in our area. Passionate about community education, Peter has also been a local voice educating young people and our community about the importance of fire safety.

  • John de Ridder

John has been the president of Caring for Port Stephens Youth (COPSY) since 2016. Passionate about mental health and wellbeing in young people, John has been an active member — advocating and seeking financial support for this important local charity. He was instrumental in securing funding and establishing a free counselling service for young people in the Tomaree area in 2019 and a telehealth service in 2020.

  • Andrew Smith

A proud Wonnarua man, Andrew is a well-respected community leader in our area. Andrew has been the CEO of Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council since 2006 and has been instrumental in the Land Council going from strength to strength. He is dedicated to advocating for and strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, and to protecting and fostering Aboriginal culture and identity.

  • Medowie Girl Guides

The Medowie Girl Guides has been part of the Port Stephens community for over 40 years. A dedicated group of leaders and volunteers give their time to help teach young women new skills, develop independence, build confidence, make friends and become active community members.

Sportsperson of the Year — Maya Stewart

A Nelson Bay local, Maya has been involved in sport since she was a child including touch football, surf lifesaving and netball — but rugby union is where Maya has found her strength. Through hard work and a dedicated training schedule, Maya found herself on the starting side of the NSW Waratahs team who play in the Super W rugby union competition. Maya is currently vying for a spot in the national Wallaroos squad to participate in the upcoming Olympics and Rugby World Cup.

Cultural Endeavour — Kay Newton and Peter Robinson

Kaye and Peter personify community spirit — they have volunteered tirelessly over the years on many projects and contributed to historical education in our area. Kaye and Peter have been active members of the Raymond Terrace and District Historical Society, King St Preservation and Action Group, and The Australian Heritage Festival. They initiated and coordinated the Back to King Street Fair in 2015 — a large family-friendly historical event in Raymond Terrace which has grown each year in popularity.

Environmental Award — Lia and Ryan Pereira

Lia and Ryan are the founders of Sea Shelter — a not-for-profit marine conservation, research and rescue organisation. They are passionate about preserving the local environment and supporting threatened and endangered animals through breeding programs, research, rehabilitation and rescue.

Citizen of the Year —  Alicia Cameron
Alicia is the founder of Plastic Free Port Stephens. Alicia established Plastic Free with the aim of supporting Port Stephens residents and businesses find innovative ways to reduce single-use plastics and educate the community on waste reduction and eco-friendly plastic alternatives.

Young Citizen of the Year — Tasmyn Fellows
Tasmyn, of the Raymond Terrace Junior Rugby League Club, is an outstanding role model for women in sport. At 17 years old, Tasmyn coached a team of 11 year old girls, most of whom had never played rugby league before. The team played against all-boys teams and Tasmyn successfully coached the girls to make it to the second round of semi-finals. Well done Tasmyn on inspiring this young group of rugby league players!

Freeman of the Year — Lorraine Nicol
Lorraine has been described as ‘a ‘pocket rocket of our community — small in stature and large in energy!’ Over many years, Lorraine has given her time to organise countless functions and events, fundraising thousands of dollars for Port Stephens charities. Lorraine is a past president of the Nelson Bay VIEW club, was on the founding committee for the Breast Cancer Support Group, is an active member of the Christmas Bush Garden Club and the current Chairperson of Corlette Hall and Headland Committee — to name a few.

Port Stephens Medals — awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community.

  • Kenyon Windeyer is said to be the backbone of the Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network. Ken has been instrumental in championing several Network initiatives including Suicide Prevention training and the annual Boat Harbour Walk With Us event, raising suicide awareness and promoting community connections.
  • Donald ‘Steve’ Jones has worked tirelessly for the Seaham community as Fire Chief for over 30 years. Steve has been responsible for fighting and coordinating fires, organising the all-important local Christmas Santa run and — despite now being in his mid-60’s — is still being deployed to fight fires. A great effort! Well done Steve.
  • Mambo Wanda Wetlands, Reserves and Landcare Committee has been quietly working to conserve and protect the Mambo Wanda wetlands since 1999. The Committee has been responsible for tree planting, weed reduction, revegetation, rejuvenation of native gardens, water quality testing and koala tree planting. The Group has been the recipient of several significant grants to support their ongoing work, as well as several awards including a highly commended in the Keep Australia Beautiful awards.

Sportsperson of the Year — Dion Cooper
Since joining the Nelson Bay Rugby Union Club in 2009, Dion has supported the running of the club in every way you can imagine — from coach, assistant coach, manager, trainer, referee, junior and vice president, secretary to grant writer, grounds manager, merchandise coordinator and line marker! Always willing to put his hand up, Dion is an outstanding example of local volunteering.

Cultural Endeavour — Rhys Fabris
Rhys is a talented local artist who uses his creative expertise to add colour and life to our town centres. Rhys is responsible for several murals across Port Stephens, including works at the recent Anna Bay 7 Day Makeover.

Environmental Award — Nigel Waters
Nigel is a community champion of Port Stephens who has given his time to numerous volunteer groups including EcoNetwork Port Stephens, Port Stephens Greens, Climate Action Port Stephens, the Tomaree ratepayers and Residents Association, and the recent Anna Bay 7 Day Makeover. Nigel is passionate about making Port Stephens a great place!

Citizen of the Year — Ben Niland
Ben Niland is the secretary of the Medowie Sports and Community Club and chairman of the Port Stephens Council Audit Committee. He is involved in all manner of local sporting activities through leadership and sponsorship. Ben envisioned and established a fundraiser ‘Medowie, Bale out the Drought’ which raised over $80,000 for rural aid to go to drought affected farmers.

Young Citizen of the Year — Amy Dufour
Amy Dufour started playing touch football at the age of 8. Since then she has played as a park player for Nelson Bay Touch and has represented Australia in competition. Amy is a consistent role mentor to younger players of touch football and is well known for her fair-play and abundance of natural talent on the field.

Sportsperson of the Year — Graeme Chamberlain
Graeme Chamberlain is a local Ironman who pushes himself to be his best while also encouraging others in our community to achieve more personally through his work as a volunteer. Graeme is the Club Captain at the Birubi Point Surf Lifesaving Club and is a member of the Tomaree Tri Club and the Nelsons Bay Hash Harriers.

Cultural Endeavour — Michael Francis
Michael Francis is a member of the Board of Directors of the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre, an organisation that he has been involved with for over 20 years. 1420 members and counting of the Port Stephens Community have been members of the Arts Centre throughout Michael’s tenure. Michael is a natural leader who has promoted artistic culture in Port Stephens significantly through his work in the community.

Port Stephens Medalist — Hunter Region Botanic Gardens
The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens were established at Heatherbrae in 1985 and serve the people of the region as a focus for the appreciation, study, research and enjoyment of horticulture and botany through the growing and display of plants. The gardens are managed, maintained and developed by a non-profit company of around 200 dedicated volunteers.

Port Stephens Medalist — Michael Murray
Michael Murray has brought this wealth of experience and organisational professionalism to the Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network, where he has served as the chairperson for the past 12 months. The PSS PN enables volunteers from the community to be involved in activities that can lead to them finding additional meaning and purpose in life.

Port Stephens Medalist — Lee Anlezark
Lee Anlezark is the outgoing president of the Tomaree Parkinson’s Support Group – an organisation that he established 10 years ago and led with optimism, hope and enthusiasm. Living with Parkinson’s himself, Lee fully understands the need to encourage healthy living, healing and well-being to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for those affected by Parkinson’s in our community.