January 24 - 30, 2021: Issue 480


Local heroes honoured: Council's Australia Day Awards 2021

In a year featured by uncertainty and challenges, Council has collectively applauded the achievements of outstanding citizens honoured in the Australia Day Awards for 2021.

The group of 20 Award winners includes disability and mental health advocates, emergency services and sports mentoring volunteers, and an environmental activist.

Mayor Michael Regan said the Awards recognise Northern Beaches’ unsung heroes - individuals or organisations making an outstanding contribution to their community during the year, 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,” Cr. Regan said.

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

“It has been a tough year and our community has taken some knocks, so we are particularly grateful for people who selflessly give back to their communities to make it a better place for all.”

Citizen of the Year Christian Barwell said the motivation for starting his new disability support group was having a younger sibling who lives with a disability. He could see first-hand where quality services were lacking and how he could help make a difference.

Christian was shocked but happy to be named winner and hoped this acknowledgement would help his new disability service gain some traction in the community.

“I’m excited and a bit nervous, but very nice to be honoured with this award,” Christian said.

“[Up & Over] has a strong focus on providing valuable and meaningful social engagement for young people with disabilities and adding value to an individual’s time spent with us.”

The awards were presented at a ceremony presided over by Northern Beaches Mayor at Dee Why Civic Centre on Thursday 21 January 2021.

Australia Day Award winners

Citizen of the Year

Christian Barwell, Collaroy

In May 2020, Christian founded his own organisation Up & Over - a new service that aims to provide group based social opportunities for people living with disabilities on the Northern Beaches. The program provides activities packed with excitement, fun, energy, and most importantly see’s friendships created between young people.

Christian makes things happen, goes the extra mile in helping local families where he can, and his aim is to raise the spirits of those in the community that he deals with. He advocates and promotes a can-do attitude that inspires others to be more accepting of individual differences.

Senior Citizen of the Year

Michael Christie, Allambie Heights

Mike has been a passionate, reliable and consistent volunteer with Little Athletics for the past 35 years in the roles of management, President, coaching, Age Managing and as a representative carnival Chief Judge. For the past 12 years Mike has been Head Coach and committee member at the Seaforth Little Athletics Club.

The Seaforth Little Athletics Club has almost folded a number of times due to lack of committee members but Mike has been instrumental in keeping it running by working with the community to help recruit more members. Mike’s dedication, leadership and energy as a head coach has helped the club to double in size over the past five years and has created a sense of community spirit within the club.

Young Citizen of the Year

Stephanie Evans, Narraweena

Stephanie founded Seas of Change in 2014 when she was just 10 years old. Her organisation aims to raise funds and awareness for marine life and their environment, with most of their efforts focussed on education and youth empowerment.

Steph has been an Ocean Youth/Sea Life Ambassador since 2017 and was a speaker at the Ocean Youth World Ocean’s Day Summit. Steph now mentors young kids across Australia and globally, helping them develop solutions-focused projects to create a tangible change within their community for a wide range of environmental issues.

Sportsperson of the Year

Ruby Trew, North Curl Curl

By the age of just 12, Ruby had won local, Australian and international skate events, as well as local, regional and state surf events.

Ruby has also been a guest speaker, mentor, advocate, coach, organiser and volunteer at several skate and surf events held locally and has been a skate coach and mentor at the iskate Australia run sessions at Mona Vale Skate Park since 2018.

Ruby is a positive role model for young people promoting health and wellbeing, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Community Event of the Year

‘28 for Twenty Eight’ presented by Jason Partington

While 2020 has been a tough year for most events, Jason Partington saw an opportunity to reach out to our community and provide support during a time of crisis.

‘28 for Twenty Eight’ was a month long mental health initiative in October 2020, which encouraged Australians to take control of their own mental health and increase their mental resilience through meditation. 

The event raised $31,900 for Lifeline, which answered 1139 crisis calls. It also raised awareness about the benefits of meditation, and educated the participants about the challenges Lifeline faces, particularly in response to the escalation in suicide rates and mental health challenges experienced in the community.

Outstanding Community Service Award recipients:

Ryan Bell, Narraweena 

Ryan is awarded for raising money to provide gifts for children living in the Manly Warringah Women’s Resource Centre over Christmas.

Georgie Campbell, Belrose

Georgie is awarded for volunteering for Sydney Wildlife Rescue for more than 20 years, and adopting and fostering many small animals saved from research.

Penny Cervetto, Frenchs Forest

Penny is awarded for volunteering for Lifeline over the past four years, and being a strong leader including in the role of Book Fair Committee Coordinator.

Christian Chandler, Belrose

Christine is awarded for volunteering as the Executive Cooking Instructor and driving force behind the delivery of cooking programs for the Forest Men’s Kitchen.

Lynleigh Greig, Elanora Heights

Lynleigh is awarded for volunteering over nine years for Sydney Wildlife, including providing awareness training and advice, and organising fundraising events. 

Michael Hardy, Great Mackerel Beach

Michael is awarded for volunteering endless hours to the Rural Fire Service over the past seven years, as a senior member of the Great Mackerel Beach RFS.

Bruce Loudon, Freshwater

Bruce is awarded for his voluntary contribution to numerous local organisations and charities over the past 40 years, including as secretary of the National Servicemen’s Association and senior layman with the Freshwater Uniting Church.

Adam Lynch, Elanora Heights 

Adam is awarded for starting BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia in 2018, with a mission to raise awareness of bladder cancer, provide information and support to the bladder cancer community, and to influence treatment and research.

Laura O’Reilly and Jordan O’Reilly, Frenchs Forest

Laura and Jordan are brother and sister, and are awarded for founding Fighting Chance in 2011, with the mission to give people with disability the opportunity to participate, contribute, and reach their goals. In 2015, Laura and Jordan also cofounded Hireup which is an online platform connecting Australians with disability with support workers who fit their needs. 

Brett Robinson and Luke Robinson, Belrose

Brett and Luke are brothers who are awarded for their voluntary contribution to the NSW Rural Fire Services over the past 10 years. They are both strong leaders within the Northern Beaches Headquarters, with Brett as President and Luke as Captain.

Maria Dolores (Doris) Sammut, Belrose

Doris is awarded for her involvement in multiple community organisations, including as mentor for children at Kid’s Hope, as a cooking teacher for The Men’s Kitchen, and at Northgate Church in Belrose.

Thomas Spithill, Newport

Tom is awarded for his contribution as Head Coach of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and as a long serving volunteer and mentor. Tom has had a particularly positive impact on the lives of over 300 wounded, injured and ill veterans and their families by establishing the veteran’s sailing program.

The Balgowlah Bowling Club Committee

For their commitment to saving the bowling club from closure, and revitalising the club for the enjoyment of the community.

Georgie Campbell and Lynleigh Greig, Wildlife Champions