Meet the Hawkesbury’s very own Australia Day heroes
They’re the people who go above and beyond, the people who really make a difference in the community. Let’s give a big hand to this year’s recipients of the Hawkesbury Australian Day Awards.
The 2021 Hawkesbury Australia Day Award Recipients
David Ryan - Citizen of the Year
Sam Bonus - Young Citizen of the Year
Suzi Samuel - Volunteer of the Year
Karen Stuttle - Local Hero Award
Hawkesbury District Volunteers Rural Fire Service - Community Organisation of the Year
WIRES Hawkesbury - Environmental Award
Holly Dalrymple - Junior Person Sports of the Year
Arabella Logan - Community Arts Award
Hawkesbury Mayor Patrick Conolly congratulated all award recipients.
“Congratulations and thank you for the many wonderful contributions you have made to our Hawkesbury community,” the Mayor said.
Hawkesbury MP Robyn Preston with Suzi Samuel - Volunteer of the Year
Citizen of the Year: David Ryan
David joined the New South Wales Rural Fire Service at the age of 12 in 1972 with Kangarubi Rural Fire Brigade.
Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year - David Ryan
He later moved to the Hawkesbury and joined Grose vale RFB before moving to Hawkesbury Headquarter Rural Fire Brigade in Wilberforce.
On 12 November 2019 during a catastrophic day, Dave led a team to safety along with two other group officers after being trapped in a burn over at Elium Heights where the fire front came roaring out with flame heights of 60 metres and wind gusts high enough to rip metal sheet roofs off buildings. Dave’s decision to stage the crew in Elium Heights allowed every crew member to be able to return home safely.
Dave’s hard work and logistical management was also shown at Bilpin in December when large amounts of strike teams of trucks where sent out there to the fire front. He tasked trucks to different properties and saved many more. On 15 December 2019, Dave assisted crews from Headquarter 9 to get a man who was having a heart attack on his property as fire impacted, out of harm’s way.
Dave has always worked hard to build community relations and further develope the skills of RFS members, and he helped create a second family for many in the community.
Dave became Captain in the late 1990s and last year became a Deputy Group Captain of the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service.
His leadership has allowed him to assist and lead teams into many forbidding campaigns. Dave has been on many fires and natural disasters including the 1986, 1994, 2001 Black Christmas fires, 2003 Canberra fires, and the 2009 Victoria fires where he was one of the first set of NSW boots on the ground.
He also spent weeks on end during the 2013 Blue Mountains and Bligh Park fires. He joined the fight against Gospers Mountain fire and helped during the following local floods.
In Dave’s 48 years of service he has achieved the National Bravery Award and Long Service Award. Dave says his greatest achievement’s is inspiring his children and grandchildren. He has gained great respect within the community by sacrificing and giving everything he can.
Young Citizen of the Year – Sam Bonus
Sam Bonus with Hawkesbury MP Robyn Preston
Fifteen-year-old Sam Bonus is a quiet young achiever but a fierce athlete with an amazing record of competitive swimming.
Sam is a Gold Squad member at Windsor Swim Club, training both in the pool and in open water under the guidance of two different coaches.
He has competed at both State and National levels in open water swimming, with the most recent competition being the Rottnest Channel Swim. This is a huge feat even for a trained adult, let alone a 15-year-old, swimming through the West Australian open ocean with sting rays, jellyfish and sharks around, to reach Rottnest Island, 19.7km away.
Not only has Sam taken part in his sporting conquests and come out with a positive attitude; he has taken part in community conversations surrounding mental health and wellbeing in public forums. Those engagements come at quite a personal commitment above and beyond his school, family and swim training schedule. Sam's next goal is to swim the English Channel.
Volunteer of the Year: Suzi Samuel
Suzi Samuel has dedicated much of her life to giving to others. Suzi has been President of Hawkesbury Torch Bearers for Legacy, joining in 2011 and becoming President in 2014.
Torchbearers are the fundraising arm of Legacy, who help the families of deceased or injured veterans. Being something of a military community, the Hawkesbury have many individuals involved in Legacy and in Torchbearers.
As President, Suzi, coordinated the local Legacy Badge Day fundraising efforts, as well as many other fundraising initiatives every year, which included quarterly movie nights at Richmond theatre, Christmas in July events, and regular morning teas, a fashion parade and yearly stalls at the Legacy Golf Day at Richmond Golf Club.
As part of the Legacy Badge Day fundraising, Suzi began the Legacy Ball, a gala event to kick off Legacy Badge Day every year. It started as an auction event in 2014 and quickly grew to be a much-loved annual event in the Hawkesbury calendar, attended by local politicians, military personnel and many, many residents.
On the Badge Day, Suzi and many other volunteers would coordinate children from many of the local schools to visit shopping centres to sell Legacy badges. Thanks to these efforts, Suzi and her team raised around $30,000 each year for Legacy.
Unfortunately, last year, Torchbearers as an entity was no longer required as a fundraising arm by Legacy, and Torchbearers has now concluded.
Suzi received this award not least because she has spent thousands of hours dedicated to the cause and charity.
Her passion for Legacy has been second to none and her commitment to raise funds with endless fresh ideas admirable.
Local Hero Award: Karen Stuttle
Mountain of Joy's Karen Stuttle - worthy winner of the Local Hero Award
Karen, and the Mountain of Joy (MOJ) group, rallied together to support not only the community of Kurrajong Heights and its surrounds, but have extended that support as far as it needs to go. Via word of mouth, and a Facebook group, they have an always well stocked community pantry, and they provide cook-ups for elderly, vulnerable, and isolated people as the need arises.
Karen and the MOJ team work tirelessly, giving all their free time to support the local community. Karen is the first one up, and the last to bed, setting up the pantry (which is on her own driveway) before dawn, working all day as a high school educator, coming home to her family, and packing the pantry away late, in the dark, to allow those struggling with finances to gather what they need on their way home from work. She does all of this out of her own pocket, and in her own time.
When the bushfires ravaged the Mountains in early 2020, Karen and the MOJ volunteers were cooking up meals in bulk to feed the displaced, and for the firefighting volunteers. They have been working closely with Strong Nation Community Services, Hawkesbury Helping Hands, Hawkesbury Community Outreach Services Inc. and local services to feed the community, and create real and significant human connection for the sometimes isolated mountain folks.
Community Organisation of the Year: Hawkesbury District Volunteers – Rural Fire Service
RFS Superintendent Karen Hodges, David Ryan and Mayor Patrick Conolly
The Rural Fire Service Hawkesbury District has 1900 volunteers, in 21 fire brigades, a catering brigade, and a communication brigade.
The 2019/2020 fire season was nothing short of extraordinary for Hawkesbury members - long and arduous, and very intensive.
The fire season began early in September, when crews were deployed to Queensland and Northern NSW to assist with their fire-fighting efforts.
The deployment continued with crew rotations every three days until October 26, when a lightning strike occurred on Gospers Mountain, just west of the Hawkesbury district.
During the fire season, the Hawkesbury Volunteers were called out to over 600 incidents, of which the Gospers Mountain fire was just one.
During the Gosper’s fire, arund 270,000 hours were committed by Hawkesbury volunteers. Adding to this, so many volunteers donated their time, by way of using holidays, Long Service Leave days, as well as accrued days off, and many even used unpaid leave days. Family life was put on hold, with many volunteers couldn’t spend time at home with families over the Christmas period.
The aim of the volunteer members in the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service is always to protect life and property. During this fire season, in excess of 2500 homes were saved by volunteer fire-fighters, with no loss of life. In addition to this, volunteers are always available to the residents for any assistance or advice needed in protecting their properties.
Environmental Award: WIRES Hawkesbury
WIRES Hawkesbury has made a significant contribution to our local environment during and since the fires.
The local wildlife has benefitted, and in turn, our community; it was comforting knowing WIRES were on hand and supporting our wildlife in a challenging time.
WIRES have been key in supporting disaster response and recovery for wildlife during the fires, which has been crucial to the recovery of our environment.
Junior Sportsperson of the Year - Holly Dalrymple
Holly Dalrymple with Hawkesbury Mayor Patrick Conolly
Holly has represented Hawkesbury City Athletics at State level every year since she was eight years old, with no formal training.
She also represented at Zone, Region and State levels every year through her school years.
At 12, Holly was awarded the Boxing Kangaroo award by the Australian Olympic Committee for her excellence in sport during her primary years.
Holly has played soccer for the last six years - her first five years with Richmond winning two grand finals - and this year she was selected for Representative soccer for Nepean. She has also been retained for the 2021 season.
Thanks to her Cross Country and Athletics achievements, Holly was invited to represent Australia for Cross Country and Athletics this year on a sports tour for elite athletes (cancelled due to COVID).
Holly has represented in many sports but her stand-outs are Athletics, Cross Country, Soccer, and Swimming and she is extremely proud to be part of the Hawkesbury and Nepean sporting teams.
Holly always shows a fine example of sportsmanship to her fellow teammates and her desire to continually improve and better herself encourages her peers and the other athletes within the Hawkesbury sporting community and school.
Holly is an excellent athlete and valued member of the sporting community of Hawkesbury City Athletics and Nepean Football Association who exceeds the requirements and expectations for both the awards. She is a talented young athlete who has achieved many sporting successes through her commitment and determination to improve and be the best she can be.
She always displays positive sportsmanship and upholds the true spirit of Little Athletics.
Community Arts Award: Arabella Logan
Arabella Logan with Hawkesbury MP Robyn Preston
Arabella Logan has been a young concert violinist member of the Sydney Youth Orchestra (SYO) for the past six years and over the past three years she was invited to join the new SYO - Western Sydney Youth Orchestra (WSYO). Arabella regularly tours, performs in concert halls in Australia and New Zealand including regional NSW music outreach programs with the WSYO. Arabella Logan was an invited young violinist to perform at the Macquarie Towns Community Orchestra 2019 Christmas Concert.
Arabella is the founder and musical director of ‘Arabella & Friends’ an ensemble of young Hawkesbury musicians who perform in the Hawkesbury mainly for the aged care and retirement residents prior to the COVID-19 restrictions for the past three years. Arabella performed the Last Post at the Anzac dawn Service at Kurrajong on ANZAC Day in 2020. She also received a Hawkesbury Achievement Music Award in 2019. Arabella is an active member of Rowing NSW & Penrith Rowing Club, competing at regular rowing regattas in a single, double, quad and eight rowing skull, including coxswaining.