Our community is talented, generous and active. Council recognises local achievements and contributions in our annual Australia Day Awards. Until 2009 we also did this through our Wall of Achievement Awards.
Ross Hutchison - Penrith Citizen of the Year
A resident for over 50 years, Ross established Penrith’s first Performing Arts Academy and has taught thousands of local children in performing arts, dance and gymnastics. He is an active member of the community and gives back through community radio, Rotary and the Carers Car organisation who provide transport for the disadvantaged and people with a disability.
Mitchell Beggs- Mowczan - Young Citizen of the Year
Mitchell is a true community leader who has dedicated 6 years working for the Aboriginal health team “Close the Gap” improving the lives of many. He is also active in a number of community groups and has raised significant funds for a sick local boy that has given him another chance at life.
Leonie Moore - Sportsperson of the Year has been involved in Penrith basketball for more than 30 years, supporting and growing the sport throughout the area.
Local Hero Ray Debono is committed to his local community and through his charity and fundraising efforts he has bettered the lives of many people.
Four residents received the Penrith Local Appreciation Award:Kevin Finlayson was recognised as an active community volunteer and advocate for disability awareness action for more than 15 years.Denise Roberts was recognised for her passion and dedication in advocating for people with disability.Robert Baines was recognised for his service with Emu Plains Lions Club.Christine Erskine was recognised for her dedication to improving the health, safety and quality of life of children.
Penrith’s 2016 Citizen of the Year Wayne Willmington, is a champion of local business, charity and community pursuits in which he devotes time to his own business and fundraising for charity. He also has served his local Rural Fire Service for more than 20
Mr Wayne Willmington – Penrith Citizen of the Year
Wayne has shown expertise in many areas including business, charity and community pursuits as well as being a foundation member of the Warragamba / Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, along with many other endeavours. As a passionate local business owner Wayne has been involved in
many progressive initiatives around Penrith and continues his dedication to volunteering with more than 20 years of service to the RFS.
Wayne was instrumental is writing ‘Luddenham, The Story’ and along with wife Ann organised the ‘Music For Life Ball’ raising money for Dr Teo’s Cure Brain Cancer Foundation. The ball raised $288,000 in its first 5 years.
Mr Joshua Gadd - Penrith Sports Person of the Year
Joshua is a dedicated golfer who always strives to improve as an athlete.
Josh recently received a scholarship with the Western Sydney Academy of Sport and has fast become a crucial and successful member of the squad.
Mr Michael McConnell - Penrith Local Appreciation Award
Michael, or Mick as he’s more commonly known, is a 5th generation Police officer and shares the same inherent willingness to protect and serve as those who came before him. Currently he is a full time volunteer, averaging 30 hours a week of time
donated to the local community. Mick is always around to lend a hand, or willing to have a chat with those in need.
As the current president of the Penrith RSL Sub branch, Mick has been instrumental in the organisation of local special events, such as the Cooee March and Poppy Park.
Mr John Campbell - Penrith Local Appreciation Award
Until his retirement, John was a permanent fixture of the NSW Scouting groups in the local area. John worked with scouts as a district scout leader, and was awarded the prestigious medal of Merit for his outstanding service. He then took his dedication to the local
community and love of sports to the Emu Plains Sporting Club, serving as their director for nine years.
John still commits his time to others now as the driver for a number of community groups. He is a dedicated to the wellbeing of others and always sees these various groups get to their outings on time.
Mr George & Mrs Carol
Tsiavos - Penrith Local Appreciation Award
Together with a small group of volunteers, George and Carol spend many hours organising activities, speakers, transport, food and refreshments for a local support group, Enosis. The group encourages socially isolated Greek seniors to meet once a week for the
opportunity to talk in their birth language, interact with and support each other and enjoy a traditional Greek lunch with music and dancing.
For the past 15 years George and Carol have taken on the large task of managing Enosis. Since taking the reins, the group has grown significantly with more than 85 seniors regularly attending. Both George and Carol support and lead the group in a caring manner
that understands and respects the needs of their community. They go above and beyond to ensure the health and wellbeing of all their members.
Mr Mario Pace - Penrith Local
Mario is a passionate advocate for Penrith’s northern rural areas. Mario volunteers much of his time ensuring the interests of the community are represented and is proactive in ensuring the community have a voice. Recently, Mario has been involved in lobbying and
securing funding for a basketball court at Berkshire Park.
Mario demonstrates vision, commitment and a great sense of pride for his community. Mario is truly an excellent role model for his rural community and Penrith.
Mr John Vickers - Penrith Local Appreciation Award
John is a retired Royal Australian Air Force Officer who has been an active member of the NSW State Emergency Service since 1998. During his time with the service he has held the role of Communications Team Leader Communications, Deputy Controller and Operations Officer. John has been
involved with various deployments across the state, most recently as part of the search for missing plane MH370 off the WA coast.
John remains a quite achiever who continues to play a vital role in the day to day functions of Penrith SES.
Mrs Caroline Volkiene - Penrith Local Appreciation Award
Caroline joined the St.Marys & District Historical Society in 2001, quickly becoming an integral part of the society. In 2011, after 10 years with the Society, Caroline was elected President, a position she still holds today.
Aside from her work with the St.Marys & District Historical Society, Caroline has contributed much to her community through involvement with the junior softball teams. Caroline was also involved with Meals on Wheels for several years, only retiring from this at the time of her
Mr John Chorma - Penrith Local
John was originally a member of St Marys Lions Club, soon becoming the driving force for the formation of the Emu Plains Lions Club. John has always been the "go-to" person at Emu Plains, providing valuable support for all those undertaking new roles on the Club's Board. In recognition of his
contribution to the Lions Community, the Club awarded John a Life Membership.
Penrith's 2015 Citizen of the Year David Currie is a champion of people with disability.
Mr Currie has lived in Penrith for 70 years and for many decades has devoted his time to several charities and campaigning for the rights of people with a disability.
He's one of 9 residents awarded Australia Day honours at a formal dinner held at the Civic Centre on Thursday, 22 January.
Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler OAM said Mr Currie had made a significant contribution to the city.
"David has been a valuable member of Council's Access Committee since 2006 helping to make Penrith more accessible for all community members," he said.
Mr Currie also volunteered his time, and his financial expertise, to the PARAQUAD board for close to a decade, and has been on the board of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy for 10 years. He is involved in community work with the Parish of Holy Spirit at St Clair and is also a board
member of Wentworth Community Housing.
The 2015 Penrith Young Person of the Year is Max Fenton.
Mr Fenton is passionate about youth work and has backed his passion with hard work and dedication - especially toward disadvantaged young people.
"Max has played an important role in Council's Mondo Project which seeks to engage young people and curb anti-social behaviour ," Cr Fowler said.
Tahlia Tupaea was named Penrith's Sports Person of the Year.
Ms Tupaea has made representative teams in tennis, athletics and most notably basketball. She represented Australia in the Open Australian School Girls basketball team when she was just 14. At 15 she joined the Sydney Uni Flames, making her the second youngest debutant ever in the
Women's National Basketball League.
Ms Tupaea fits her sport commitments around her HSC studies and is a keen supporter of other young players through coaching and clinics.
The 2015 Penrith Local Hero is Lesley Smith.
Mrs Smith was recognised for her tireless efforts to raise money for charity and volunteering, particularly with the Rural Fire Service.
Local Appreciation Awards were also awarded at the Civic Centre ceremony to Sally Wawn, Abaker Athum, Dr Om Dhungyel, Dr Alexis Leones and Sally Reedy.
Cr Fowler said award winners were nominated as outstanding citizens by friends, family and peers.
"Sally Wawn was recognised for generously volunteering her time and skills to help many local sport clubs and community groups continue to run," he said.
"Abaker Athum grew up in war-torn Sudan and has been awarded for using his creativity as a Hip Hop artist to generate opportunities for young people in St Marys.
"Dr Om Dhungyel was recognised for his ongoing volunteer work to support the successful settlement of Bhutanese refugees in Penrith.
"Dr Alexis Leones is the President of the Philippine Language and Cultural Association of Australia and was awarded for her contribution to many cultural events in Penrith.
"Sally Reedy was recognised for her volunteer work with St John Ambulance, the State Emergency Service and the Mama Lana Community Foundation which helps people who are homeless.
"All recipients richly deserve recognition for their work in our community and I thank and congratulate them."
Peter was awarded Penrith's Citizen of the Year award for his dedication and tireless work for the community. Peter has worked as a St John Ambulance volunteer and helped numerous sporting groups and charities over many years. Most recently he turned his business Penrith
Storage King into a drop off/collection point for perishable and non-perishable goods, to help those who lost their homes in the October Blue Mountains bushfire. The business held belongings for those who had nowhere else to put them. It also operated as a drop-off point for
water and supplies for the RFS and SES. Peter worked around the clock and remained on call for those requiring after hours assistance.
Bede's sporting achievements were inspired by his sister Kate who lost her battle with Juvenile Xanthogranulomas, an extremely rare blood disorder, in 2012. Bede competed in the Ironman Australia Triathlon in Port Macquarie in May 2013 in memory of Kate, placing 23rd out of more
than 1600 competitors. His efforts raised over $5000 for the Leukaemia Foundation. Bede also qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii last October. Bede balances his training with work and study. He also plays first grade hockey and has coached junior teams.
Together Robert and Joyce are a volunteering dream team. Some of the organisations they have changed and helped grow, through tireless and selfless commitment over many years are Nepean Volunteer Referral Centre, Arms of Australia Inn Museum, Nepean District Historical
Society, Scouts Australia NSW Branch, Metropolitan Mini Trotting Club, and a Parents and Citizens Association.
Phil has been chosen for this award for his dedication to the community through Rotary for over 20 years. Phil's commitment to the organisation saw him receive the "Paul Harris Fellow Recognition", the pinnacle of Rotary achievement, in 2000, 2009, 2011 and 2013. He was
also Rotary District Governor in 2001 - 2.
Elizabeth has been a volunteer leader in the Scout movement for more than 30 years. Elizabeth works as a mentor to new leaders in Scouts and steers youth members in the right direction by passing on her vast experience in the Penrith local community. She has been awarded a
Silver Emu from Scouts Australia and a Meritorious Award from Pope Francis 1 for her service. Elizabeth also donates her time to help numerous community groups and activities including Clean Up Australia Day, ANZAC services, the St Marys Spring Festival and other groups as required.
Gina, CEO of local business Nepean Regional Security has been chosen for this Award for her demonstrated excellence in business and community. Gina's business has won over 18 industry awards. Last year a major newspaper named her one of Western Sydney's most successful
business tycoons. She serves on the Executive of the Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce in the role of Secretary. Local interests are very close to her heart, such as sponsoring events, public speaking and mentoring business groups. Gina was named 2013 Business Woman of the Year in the Western
Sydney Awards and was a finalist in the 2013 NSW Premier's Woman of the Year awards. She was also a finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women's Awards. Following these accolades Gina was hand-picked by the Australia Chamber of Commerce to star in a TV commercial highlighting small
Penrith resident Jessica won a silver medal for canoeing in the 2012 London Olympics, gold in the Singapore Summer Youth Olympics and a bronze in the Canoe Slalom World Championships in 2010.
Dr William Gayed - Penrith appreciation award
Dr Gayed has a long history of community work as a general practitioner, surgeon, former Penrith Mayor (1992-93), founder of the Senior Citizens' Club in Werrington and local radio station WOWFM, plus he is a Coptic Achievement Award winner for his work and service with
Egyptian Coptics in Australia. He also formed the Nile Family Association to help families from Egypt and the Sudan as well as the Sub Federation of Egyptian Migrants, and was a co-founder of the Arabic Medical Association.
Jan is a stalwart of the Wallacia and Mulgoa Rotary Club, having been its president twice in the past 12 years. She has also helped many local charities in donating furniture to the local youth homeless centre. She is a dedicated mother and grandmother; has 3 children and 2
stepchildren and has hosted many exchange students from overseas.
His work as a corrections officer in a sex offenders jail inspired him to train females in self defence. He also coaches in anti bullying skills, work ethics and helping troubled people improve their self identity. He also runs a project to save a type of endangered Kite bird
by securing land and ensuring a breeding environment for it - he had been inspired to do so as he said he loved watching the birds as a child.
Michael and Jo of Cranebrook set up the Samuel Morris Foundation to raise awareness about childhood drowning.
Robert is the type of person who has always been there for other people. His kindness and compassion led him to petition the Police Commissioner's Office to form the Police Post Trauma Support Group (PPTSG) and it's because of his determination the group was formed
shortly after. The PPTSG helps serving and former police officers and emergency service workers by providing support to those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression.
Known as a talented, passionate and selfless woman to her friends, Danielle has overcome many obstacles in her life to get her where she is today. As director of a successful photography business called 'Naturalights Photography', Danielle has developed a reputation for
providing outstanding service and been heavily involved in establishing the careers of young up-and-coming local photographers, having taken on a number of work experience students.
For the past 30 years, Shirley has devoted much of her time to helping others as a volunteer for a number of organisations. At Penrith Community Aid, Shirley has volunteered in different roles including as Roster Secretary, Assistant Office Manager, Senior Committee Member,
Customer Service Representative and Meals on Wheels facilitator. She is devoted to her local neighbourhood and as a volunteer for the St Vincent De Paul has provided support and comfort to many in times of distress. For the past 13 years, Shirley has also helped the broader
community as an accredited counsellor for Lifeline, assisting people suffering from depression, anxiety and trauma.
Jim is a man with a passion for helping those less fortunate. He devotes his time to local charity Christian Mission Possible and helps to feed the hungry and homeless people in the local area. On Mondays he collects food donated by the community, distributes this at the Free
Food Shop on Tuesdays and also feeds the homeless at Kingswood Railway Station on Thursdays.
Natasha has achieved a lot in her short life, which can be credited to hard work and a 'can-do' attitude. A born performer, Natasha has been singing at local events since she was in Primary School and despite her busy schedule continues to use her exceptional singing
talents to bring happiness to people in her community. Since signing with a record label in 2010, Natasha has combined her school studies with filming music videos and recording and writing songs for her upcoming album. Natasha competed against students from 11,000 schools across Australia
to win the Australian Children's Music Foundation (ACMF) National Song writing Competition. She has performed at many events including Australia Day at the Regatta Centre and Penrith Festival. She has also enjoyed performing to raise funds at charity events supporting bushfire
victims and wildlife conservation.
Until 2009, Council recognised local achievements and contributions through the annual Wall of Achievement Awards, in the categories: Business, Carer, Civic, Community Services, Culture & Environment, and Sport. See the list of locals honoured in
these annual awards below.
From 2010 onwards, Council has recognised the outstanding achievements and contributions of residents through our Australia Day Awards.
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