Volunteer of the Year Awards

Hornsby has always had very high volunteering rates consistently well above the national and state averages. But like everywhere the pandemic last year badly impacted volunteerism across our local area. The volunteer rates are climbing again but it will take some time to reach previous levels.

Hornsby MP and NSW Treasurer Matt Kean gives Dooral Roundup readers his perspective.

The importance of the contribution volunteers provide to their community is often taken for granted. It saves governments at all levels a considerable amount of resources and many important organizations such as our CWA, State Emergency Service, scouts, guides, sports clubs, service clubs and school P & Cs, simply would not exist without them. This also includes Hornsby’s largest volunteer organizations, our Rural Fire Service and Bushcare groups.

Many people volunteer simply because something needs to get done! However, there are of course many benefits to the volunteer. These include but are not limited to;

• You get to act on your values, passions and interests
• You gain valuable experience and new skills
• The satisfaction of playing an active role in your community and meeting new people
• You keep active both physically and mentally

I know people who have retired and for the first time they start to volunteer in their local community, for some of the reasons I have mentioned. They then go on to be busier than they have ever been, but they also become happier than they have ever been.

Recently, the awards ceremony for the 2022 Volunteer of the Year for Upper North Shore were held with several extraordinary locals were recognized.

At the ceremony Mt Colah resident Tiffany Willis was awarded Young Volunteer of the Year for her incredible contribution as a volunteer with St John Ambulance Hornsby. Amazingly Tiffany contributed more than 1,060 of volunteer hours to her community. She is an important mentor to people of all ages in the St John Ambulance organization and sets a wonderful example for youth volunteering in her role as Superintendent.

The Senior Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Galston resident Barry Lees who has volunteered with a large number of community organizations for many decades. The list of some of the important groups Barry volunteers with makes you exhausted just reading them and they include;

• The local Native Plant Society managing Hornsby Herbarium, where Barry regularly explores Hornsby Shire’s natural areas searching for new plant species
• Streamwatch, doing water quality monitoring in local waterways
• Floating Landcare, enthusiastically removing weeds in remote areas around the Hawkesbury River
• Carrs Bush, in Fagan Park, maintaining a now healthy remnant endangered, ecological community of Sydney turpentine ironbark forest
• Still Creek Landcare Group, as a founding member in 2008, sharing his expertise and knowledge with other members and the community

Barry Lees is also a dedicated volunteer at Hornsby Shire Council’s community nursery where he distributes local trees species throughout the Shire’s rural areas to enhance important habitat corridors.

Many of Barry’s unique ideas and contributions have been important in maintaining the local bushland environment also supporting endangered flora and fauna.

Unsurprisingly Barry Lees was also presented with the main award, the overall 2022 Upper North Shore Volunteer of the Year.

Congratulations to both Barry Lees and Tiffany Willis for their deserving recognition, and I sincerely thank all volunteers in the Hornsby community for their generous and valuable contributions.