A tireless volunteer involved in fundraising and building a sense of community is Willoughby City Council’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year.
Tanya Taylor, of Willoughby, was one of four outstanding locals recognised at the Australia Day Award ceremony at The Concourse, Chatswood on January 26. They joined over 70 people who became citizens at the ceremony that was also attended by local member and Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Mayor Giles-Gidney congratulated the four award recipients and the new citizens.
“The award winners are a great example of how getting involved on a grass roots level can have a big impact on your community. They are passionate, selfless and lead by example,” she said.
“Seeing people become Australian citizens demonstrates how diverse and welcoming our community is.”
Tanya Taylor – Citizen of the Year
Tanya is a tireless volunteer and ambassador for her community – supporting and leading fundraising and community activities. She volunteers at 1st Sailors Bay Sea Scouts as Assistant Group Leader and as Cubs Leader. Tanya has volunteered at Willoughby Public School, including as vice-president and co-president of the P&C, been involved as a class rep and in reading groups for many years, as well as planning the events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the School. Tanya organised the Willoughby Public School involvement in Steptember, a fundraising initiative of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, including a Crazy Sock Day, with nearly 1000 children and teachers raising funds, helping to improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy.
More recently, she instigated a Chicks for a Cause lunch and Fiver for a Farmer day at the School, culminating in much needed funds being raised for drought affected communities.
Tanya’s three children attend the School and she is credited with bringing vitality and change to the School and sharing her energy and compassion with children.
Tanya is also on the committee of the Willoughby Community Special Needs Pre-School, and has been since her son attended in 2012.
“We have a busy household with three children, including my youngest who has cerebral palsy. I enjoy volunteering and contributing to my community – it creates a great environment for our children and promotes a social and supportive atmosphere for the whole community,” Tanya said.
“I feel honoured to be nominated and hope that other people can see that volunteering and giving back can make a big difference.”
Tanya has been recently been organising an annual “Willoughby Families Weekend” at Point Wollstonecraft on Lake Macquarie to bring the community closer together. It’s become so popular that 185 people attended in 2019.
In 2018 Tanya walked with her team competing in Coastrek and danced the tango in the Cancer Council’s Stars of the North raising over $5000. Tanya has also hosted ten Girls Night In events, raising funds for breast cancer.
Lora Chen – Young Citizen of the Year
Lora has volunteered as co-Leader at Artarmon Junior Girl Guides for the last five years. She has gone above and beyond to lead, role model, and mentor the girls aged 7-10 years old.
Lora volunteered every Tuesday evening during school term to deliver the program to local girls, all while studying a combined law degree full-time and working part-time. She has also organised and led the girls at events on weekends and public holidays, such as Anzac Day Ceremonies, Clean Up Australia Day, and going horse riding.
Lora planned a varied program which encouraged all unit members to build friendships and leadership skills while partaking in adventure, service and all-round fun activities. During her tenure, Lora mentored nine girls to achieve the Junior Baden-Powell Award, the third highest youth award for an Australian Girl Guide.
Penny Lye – Cultural and Community Building Award
Penny has volunteered with Probus, Northbridge Progress Association, Rotary and many other organisations, including Wrap with Love and Listening Ear (formerly Dial a Mum). In fact, she’s spent a lot of her 19 years of retirement volunteering. She is described as a generous giver of her time and expertise. Penny has produced newsletters for Probus and the Progress Association, among other activities. “I enjoy volunteering and giving back- I’ve been involved in volunteering in one way or another much of my life. It works both ways, especially in retirement, it gives you a purpose as well as hopefully doing something useful for others,” Penny said.
Don Wilson – Environmental Citizen of the Year Award
Don has dedicated years to environmental preservation and, more recently, to the war on waste. Disturbed by the amount of plastic entering our oceans and waterways, Don encourages everyday Australians to take action by reducing single use plastics and actively keeping the environment free of litter. He started Winning the War on Waste and a program called Get Fitter with Litter. As part of the Get Fitter with Litter campaign, Don invites people to “adopt a street and keep it neat” by collecting rubbish when they’re out walking. Don sets the example by regularly picking up litter himself. For the past year, Don has delivered talks to Probus groups on the history of waste, including what we can do to reduce rubbish. In these talks Don invites the older generation to set an example for younger people.
Don was actively involved in volunteering with bushcare and established a national bushcare volunteer day – Bushcare’s Major Day Out. Don has also raised awareness for the important volunteer work in restoring and maintaining bushland.
Don won Willoughby City Council’s Citizen of the Year Award in 2014.