Hills Heroes Honoured at Australia Day Awards

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Image Caption: Australia Day Award winners – Ellen Kulbicki, Melissa Scaife of Fit Kidz Foundation, Mayor Gangemi, Lilly Schwartz, Jim Smith, Little Helpers on the Run representative Khurram Jaw.

The outstanding contributions of Hills heroes were celebrated at The Hills Shire Council’s Australia Day Awards, held at the Pioneer Theatre on Tuesday 16 January.

The event recognised exemplary individuals and groups across five categories: Community Group of the Year, Environmental Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Senior Citizen of the Year, and Citizen of the Year.

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Peter Gangemi, said the event honoured local legends who selflessly contribute to the community without expecting recognition.

“I would like to congratulate each of our nominees and winners on their awards and thank them for their work in making our Shire such a great place to live,” Mayor Gangemi said.

“These individuals and all our volunteers selflessly give so much of their time and effort to help others, and each of our residents is so thankful for these incredible contributions.

“I hope the Australia Day Awards go some way to showing how much we truly appreciate them.”

The winners in each category were:

Community Group of the Year:

  • Winner: Fit Kidz Foundation – Providing support to neurodiverse children and their families through occupational therapy, speech therapy, family support, and initiatives including the Stronger Together Conference.
  • Highly Commended: The Mind Connections Foundation and Soroptimist International of The Hills.

Environmental Citizen of the Year:

  • Winner: Lilly Schwartz – Advocate for the environment, founder of the Flora and Fauna of Hills/Hornsby Facebook group, and organiser of a unique koala counting project.

Young Citizen of the Year:

  • Winner: Aiza, Aish and Abdullah Khurram of Little Helpers on the Run – Organisers of activities for nursing home residents, including therapeutic art clubs, Lego clubs, and tea parties.
  • Highly Commended: Marcus Campagna and Eva Pulvirenti.

    Senior Citizen of the Year:

  • Winner: James ‘Jim’ Smith (AFSM) – Active member, leader, and mentor of Middle Dural Rural Fire Brigade for over 45 years, with significant contributions during interstate deployments for major fire events.
  • Highly Commended: Max Roughley.

    Citizen of the Year:

  • Winner: Ellen Kulbicki – Service director of the Fit Kidz Foundation, committed to supporting Hills Shire families with neurodivergent children.
  • Highly Commended: Melissa Monteiro and Dr Padmini Howpage.

The Australia Day Awards are one of many significant events happening as part of Council’s Australia Day celebrations.

Other exciting events are also scheduled for January 26. These events include an Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony at Council’s Norwest Chambers, a pool party at Waves Fitness and Aquatic Centre, an evening event at Bella Vista Farm with fireworks, and several community events and flag raising ceremonies.

To learn more about Council’s Australia Day celebrations, visit www.thehills.nsw.gov.au and search ‘Australia Day 2024’.

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