The winners were announced by Mayor Jennifer Anderson at a special ceremony on Australia Day.

The Ku-ring-gai Australia Day Awards are presented each year in recognition of groups and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the local community.

Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson with Australia Day Ambassador Jay Allen

The Group Award for Outstanding Service, Young Citizen of the Year, Young Environmental Citizen of the Year, Environmental Citizen of the Year and the Citizen of the Year were presented by Mayor Jennifer Anderson and Ku-ring-gai’s Australia Day Ambassador, Jay Allen, also known as The Melanoma Man for his fundraising efforts in the fight against skin cancers.

Citizen of the Year – Michelle Key

Image: Smiles2U Facebook page

Michelle is the founder of NorthShoreMums Smiles2U and just last month saw it become an official charity. Smiles2U provides activity and care bags to children in local hospitals, as well as toiletry packs for parents caught unprepared for hospital stays, cancer care packs and care packages for parents staying at the children’s palliative care facility Bear Cottage.

This year Michelle has also become an invaluable member of the Wheels For Ryan fundraising team which managed to raise over $75,000 in five months to help a local family purchase a vehicle suitable for their disabled child. Michelle is also walking to raise money for the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter.

Michelle has coordinated community responses for Share the Dignity bags for homeless women and also toiletry packs for female RFS volunteers during last year’s summer bushfires. Mother of three Michelle is a selfless individual who takes great pride in helping others and building community spirit through a range of activities.

Young Citizen of the Year – Edward Giles

In 2019, Edward established a partnership with the Ku-ring-gai Council through his leadership role at Killara High, recognising a lack of support for young people’s mental health.

Edward and other school prefects hosted an event to advertise Gordon Youth Centre’s services for young people with mental health issues. Edward attended a mental health forum at Macquarie University to learn about new resources and initiatives which were then implemented and promoted at Killara High. Edward has become an influential voice of young people in the community and portrays leadership and integrity wherever he goes.

Young Environmental Citizen of the Year – Ella Di Moro

Photo credit: The Pink Pantry on Facebook

Ella started The Pink Pantry whereby people put their excess food, plants and popular items to share with the community and saving landfill, waste and cost. Ella encourages gardening and composting in her neighbourhood, operating a free pantry of home-grown products outside her home. She administers a Facebook page called The Pink Pantry so members can find out what seedlings, fruit, vegetables, flowers, and other produce have been added. She paints her own bird houses, makes bee hotels and supplies local residents with horse, chicken and cow manure. She grows her own seedlings to give to residents to attract bees. Her work in establishing and maintaining the Pink Pantry in Wyomee Street West Pymble demonstrates generosity and leadership in helping the local environment and stimulating great community spirit.

Environmental Citizen of the Year – Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai

Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai was established in 2019 with a Ku-ring-gai Council environmental grant. The not for profit has been set up to rescue plants often thrown away when a property is demolished and the block is cleared. The recovered plants are then found a new home with local residents or in school gardens. Fifteen sites have had plants rescued, with over 250 plants finding new homes.

Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Service by a Community Organisation – Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury Christmas Hamper Appeal

Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury’s Christmas Hamper Appeal has been supporting vulnerable people in the community since 2008. Christmas hampers are supplied to people, particularly families, who are in financial distress, experiencing mental health issues, job loss, relationship breakdowns, domestic violence or in poor physical health.

Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury relies on local volunteers to manage and implement this project; including gathering donations of foods and gifts, packaging and distribution. The volunteers travel for miles picking up donations, wrapping presents and packing hundreds of hampers. Each year, the number of Christmas hampers increases and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure every donation is distributed to those in need. Partnerships have been formed with organisations such as local Rotary Clubs, churches, Ku-ring-gai Council, Ravenswood School, local businesses and other community organisations to ensure that no-one goes without at Christmas.

Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Service by a Community Organisation – Kissing Point Sports Club

The Club has been an integral part of Ku-ring-gai’s sporting and social life since 1957, run by a team of dedicated volunteers who recognise the importance of team sports.

The club provides a shared constitution, governance and financial oversight for five sporting codes, all managed independently by volunteers. These are baseball, cricket, football, netball and softball.

In 2020 alone, the Club catered for more than 2000 players ranging in age from 5 to 65, both male and female of all abilities.

In addition, the club provided volunteering roles for several hundred teenagers and adults (coaches, managers, referees, scorers and more). In spite of the unique challenges presented in 2020, KPSC volunteers continued to deliver sport to members, and in fact some codes experienced significant growth in player numbers.

Mayor Jennifer Anderson said all those receiving this year’s awards had demonstrated extraordinary effort in helping their local community at a time of unprecedented stress.

“The pandemic has not stopped the many hundreds of other volunteers who have worked round the clock to help local people.”

“This year more than ever we should all recognise and applaud their effort and contribution to the community.”

Mayor Anderson also presented 93 new Australians from 24 countries with their citizenship certificates at the Australia Day awards ceremony.

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