Hills Australia Day Winners

CHRIS CLEARY who runs the StreetMed charity working with the homeless and JAMES BRICE, the musical director and conductor of Castle Hill RSL Youth Wind Orchestra and North West Wind Ensemble, have both been named the 2021 Hills Citizen of the Year.

Chris ramped up her services with StreetMed – a not-for-profit that provides first aid, medical check-ups and mental health support for those living rough – to ensure the most vulnerable and their pets could access food and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also volunteers with the Sister2Sister program, Camp Quality and Feel the Magic.

James was recognised for his efforts that ensured his musicians remained connected when lockdown measures were first implemented. In fact, he made sure that each of his band members kept playing and carried out 73 weekly online rehearsals.

Chris told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News that it was an “absolute honour” to receive such a fantastic award.

“To be awarded the Hills citizen of the year in a room full of such amazing people doing such incredible things is truly humbling. 2020 was such a challenging year for so many people and Covid changed the way that not just StreetMed but the world in general did things on a day-to-day basis.

“This award has not only highlighted the work that myself and later on in the year my team did during these difficult times, I think more it also highlights that the amazing work that Frontline workers do isn’t just confined to hospitals or supermarkets or the wonderful work others as such did, it also highlights that there are a lot of people like myself across the country out there on the streets, particular during the height of the pandemic, trying to help and keep the most vulnerable in our society our forgotten homeless alive, and hopefully minimizing the risk to them contracting this horrible COVID-19.

“Please never forget our homeless and those less fortunate.“

Former Hills Shire Youth Ambassador TIAN YI WONG See was awarded Young Citizen of the Year. The teenager is committed to breaking down the stigma surrounding poor mental health and has written about his own struggles in a book called One In Five to None in Five, which is available from the Castle Hill Library. Tian is also the current President of the Coco Youth Group, which focuses on health and wellbeing of young people.

Dedicated volunteer JANICE SANDERS was awarded the Senior Citizen of the Year Award for her efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic her commitment to helping others. Each month, Ms Sanders packs care packages which are given to people in need.

SUE MARTIN, the Chair of the Cattai Hills Environment Network, was named Environmental Citizen of the Year.

Hills Community Aid (HCA) was named Community Group of the Year.

Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne, said “Our Australia Day Awards are about acknowledging our local residents who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and have made a positive contribution to the lives of others without asking for anything in return.

“Their meaningful and generous work helps make our region even more vibrant, connected and inclusive.”


The Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year is David Ryan. David has been a volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service for 48 years and he is a current Deputy Group Captain of the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service.

David has seen many of the country’s major fires, including the 2001 Black Christmas fires, 2003 Canberra fires, and the 2009 Victoria fires.

During the Gospers Mountain fire, David lead a team to safety lead a team to safety along with two other group officers after being entrapped in a burn over at Elium Heights.

Mayor of Hawkesbury City Patrick Conolly said David’s years of service and ongoing commitment to the Hawkesbury Community make him a very deserving award winner.

Australia Day Award Winners:
• Citizen of the Year: David Ryan
• Young Citizen of the Year: Sam Bonus
• Volunteer of the Year: Suzi Samuel
• Local Hero Award: Karen Stuttle
• Community Organisation of the Year: Hawkesbury District Volunteers Rural Fire Service
• Environmental Award: WIRES Hawkesbury
• Junior Person Sports of the Year: Holly Dalrymple
• Community Arts Award: Arabella Logan

The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Patrick congratulated all award recipients. He also acknowledged the challenges facing the community since the 2019/2020 bushfires and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but he noted that community support was alive and well in the Hawkesbury and that, in times like these, it makes all the difference.

“Our emergency services volunteers are a perfect example of the support that is readily provided to our community year after year. We will always need the ever present assistance of our emergency services staff and volunteers whether it is during fire, floods, storms or other emergencies.”

More details next issue of the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News.

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