DIANE RUSSELL is Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year. The Founder of the Hope4U Foundation also established the Hope Walk in Windsor which is being held this Saturday (February 11th).
The Hope4U Foundation specialises in grief and loss for families and individuals of those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
Diane established the Hope Walk at Windsor in 2016, to try and raise awarness of suicide and its impact on families and to erase the stigma of mental illness. The Walk For Hope followed the death of her son Jason to suicide in 2015. In 2021 her second son Aaron died of suicide.
The Hope4U Foundation provides free counselling, workshops, community support events, free BBQs and events such as the Hope Walk.
The citation at the award’s ceremony said: “(Diane) gives back to her community by volunteering all her free time to ensure community members have emotional and mental health support.
“She still works as a registered nurse, and she puts all her free time and money into community events and supporting our community.”
EMILY LOWE, 21, was named as Hawkesbury’s 2023 Young Citizen of the Year. Emily joined Tennyson Rural Fire Station as a Junior Volunteer in August 2013.
During this time, Emily has been involved in community education and preparedness initiatives through the Rural Fire Service where she has also been an active firefighter responding to incidents around the Hawkesbury.
She has been deeply involved in the response to multiple disasters that have directly impacted the Hawkesbury community including 2019/2020 Gospers Mountain Fire and the multiple floods the Hawkesbury has seen during 2020 to 2022.
In 2021 and 2022, Emily also participated in the Starlight Foundation Super Swim Fundraising Challenge. Through this challenge over two years, she achieved and exceeded her fundraising goals, raising hundreds of dollars by swimming over 40kms.
Her citation read: “Emily has excelled in an organisation with an under- representation of young women. She is an inspiration for many women and young people to join the Rural Fire Service and to volunteer in the Hawkesbury community.”
LOCAL HERO: MITCHELL BRENNAN. In 2019, he fought the fires in Wisemans Ferry as a Rural Fire Service volunteer. He fought the fire for weeks on end and received an award from the Rural Fire Service Commissioner for this work.
During the first flood in 2020, he helped deliver goods to residents over many weeks and assisted with the flood clean up. In the floods of March 2022 and July 2022, Mitch was yet again delivering goods to the Hawkesbury community and cleaning up again.
He was one of the few people who knew the river well and was also truly aware of the needs of the community.
Mitch lost his own accommodation and belongings on his property in the July 2022 flood. Despite losing so much himself, he worked alongside the Army, cleaning up Walmsley Road and St Albans.
2023 COMMUNITY ORGANISATION OF THE YEAR: The Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association which has fostered and grown the annual agricultural show within the Hawkesbury for 135 Shows.
Of those 100 Shows were held at the Hawkesbury Racecourse with subsequent shows held at the current Hawkesbury Showground site in Clarendon.
This site was secured through the hard work of volunteers within the Association from the Hawkesbury Agricultural College. The Show events bring millions of dollars into the Hawkesbury economy and local infrastructure work on the Showground supports local jobs.
The Hawkesbury Show has grown to become the largest and best regional agricultural show in NSW attracting over 60,000 visitors each year. The Award recognises the tireless and hard work performed by so many volunteers for over 100 years.
THE HAWKESBURY COMMUNITY ARTS AWARD won by The Hawkesbury City Eisteddfod Society for The Hawkesbury City Eisteddfod, one of the oldest competitions in Australia and a rich part of the Hawkesbury’s heritage.
For over 70 years, the Hawkesbury City Eisteddfod Society has provided a forum in which performers can build their confidence and skill. Many performers have moved into professional careers within their chosen field including elite international ballet and dance companies, acting, teaching, law and more.
The Eisteddfod Society helps the Hawkesbury community by bringing together families, teachers, and performers and boosting tourism.
Over 7000 performers cross the stage over the approximately 18-day annual event including solos, 110 school groups and 135 dance groups.
POLICE REMEMBRANCE: A Commemorative Plaque honouring DETECTIVE INSPECTOR BRYSON ANDERSON will be displayed in perpetuity at the entrance of the Council Administration Building in Windsor.
Bryson was a Detective Inspector for Hawkesbury Police Area Command and was highly regarded by his colleagues.
As a police officer who came from a policing family, Bryson dedicated his life to protecting the communities he worked in. He was killed in the line of duty In December 2012 while protecting the Hawkesbury community.
He was passionate about his role on the Hawkesbury Local Traffic Committee, and he always had a presence at our community events, either in uniform or as a community member with his family. He contributed time to his local fire brigade as a volunteer firefighter and he also organised a Special Olympics Event in Windsor. As a father of three children, Bryson volunteered as a coach to several junior soccer teams and fundraised for the school Parents and Citizens committee.
Bryson was a mentor to many and a caring and generous leader in the Hawkesbury community and a decorated police officer.
The council citation said: “This year marks the tenth anniversary of Bryson’s death and it is the time for us to acknowledge his dedication and the ultimate sacrifice he made to protect our Hawkesbury community. Bryson continues to have a presence in our community, and he will never be forgotten.”
Nearly 8000 people came along to enjoy the free family fun, food and fireworks at the annual Australia Day event hosted by Hawkesbury City Council on the banks of the Hawkesbury River at Governor Phillip Park, Windsor. Hawkesbury Mayor Sarah McMahon said: “After three years of fires, floods and lockdowns, it was so amazing to see so many smiling faces”
More stories on Award DI Bryson Anderson winners on page 26.