Hawkesbury Citizens of the Year

Hawkesbury Mayor Barry Calvert with Volunteer of the Year Phillip Hurst and Local Hero Sherri McMahon
Hawkesbury Mayor Barry Calvert with Volunteer of the Year Phillip Hurst and Local Hero Sherri McMahon

Ross Matheson, President of Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association was named Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year on Friday at a special Awards Ceremony at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in Windsor. The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Barry Calvert congratulated all Australia Day Award winners saying, “Thank you for the contributions you have made to the Hawkesbury community.” He was joined by the 2019 Hawkesbury Australia Day Ambassador, Cheryl Koenig as awards were made to Ross, Phillip Hurst, Betty Kelly, Sherri McMahon, City Slickers and Windsor High School. Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year: Ross Matheson has been a member of the Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association for more than 40 years, holding several a committee roles including President since 2016 and has been Head of the Showground Works Committee for many years.

His commitment as a volunteer is 365 days a year as the Showground is an all year business, staging not only the annual Hawkesbury Show but also the hosting of a range of externally organised events throughout the year.

As Head of Works Committee Ross has planned, project managed and completed projects with a value of around $700,000 including upgrade to the internal roads and drainage within the Showground, construction of a new ambulant toilet block and installation of a bore and irrigation system to the Showground’s main arena.

Hawkesbury Volunteer of the Year was awarded jointly to Phillip Hurst and Betty Kelly. Phillip Hurst has been a volunteer in the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service for more than 35 years. He joined Kurrajong Heights Brigade in 1981 where he is still a very active member.

He has held the position of Senior Deputy Captain, Deputy Captain, brigade treasurer, permit officer and brigade management team member. Phillip is also a Deputy Group Captain in the Hawkesbury District a position which he has held since 2012.

He has been instrumental in running the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service District High School Cadet program which runs at Colo High School, Windsor High School, Hawkesbury High School and Arndell Anglican College. In the time Phillip has been involved more than 200 Hawkesbury students have graduated through the program.

Betty Kelly, 90, received a life membership of the Hawkesbury Hospital Auxiliary in recognition of more than 15 years of continuous service to Hawkesbury Hospital patients, families, friends and staff. During her time as a volunteer, Betty fulfilled important leadership roles including as Vice-President of the Auxiliary for a number of years. Betty also volunteered very regularly in the Hospital Gift Shop working many days a month over many years. Betty turned 90 in October last year and, although her mobility is now quite restricted, she still continues to volunteer in the Gift Shop, working an average of five shifts per month. She also is regular contributor at fundraising events at the Hospital and is known as someone who can solve issues. While Betty’s service is outstanding and a testament to a conspicuous commitment to serve her community, it is her role as a mentor and guide to the other volunteers in the Auxiliary, that is exemplary.

The Community Organisation of the Year: City Slickers Appeal which helps rural residents who are suffering from the devastating effects of drought.

Hawkesbury Local Hero is Sherri McMahon who has made a big contribution to the community since arriving in the Macdonald Valley in 1996. She joined

The local Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, trained as a Firefighter and went on to become a Deputy Captain and eventually Senior Deputy. As a Primary Producer, Sherri shared her knowledge, successes and concerns with others and was subsequently elected as a Trustee of the St Albans Common. Through flood, fire and drought, Sherri has stood by her community. She established an effective, widespread email network and she regularly notifies residents (and Weekenders) of the events which are shaping their lives. Sherri provides prompt, accurate and up-to-date information as events unfold and has bought the community together, whether it be fighting for a common cause, addressing threats to the community, supporting local institutions such as the St Albans School of Arts, Macdonald Valley Public School and the Writers Festival or welcoming new residents.

The Hawkesbury Environmental Award was won by Windsor High School where students, Harrison Moxon, Sean Gaiter, Chase Wright and Caleb Chase entered a competition called Innovation Nation run by the Foundation for Young Australians. The aim was to develop ideas for social and environmental change.

The students focused on rubbish reduction and recycling and created the Cash Cage Project after conducting an audit of the garbage bins at the school. The Cash Cage became a whole school project as students used it to separate different recyclable items. The money earnt for the school from the return and earn part of the Cash Cage was used to purchase compost bins to aid further reduction of waste and to make a product to improve the quality of the soil in the school gardens and agriculture plot.

The school made it to the top ten, receiving a $1,000 micro grant, online resources, as well as coaching sessions with experienced business leaders. They also won an additional $6,000 to keep The Cash Cage project going.