Long-time Rural Fire Service volunteer named Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year

A 38-year veteran of the NSW Rural Fire Service has been named Hawkesbury's Citizen of the Year for 2020.

Malcolm Bobrige has been a volunteer with the RFS in the Hawkesbury for nearly three decades. He became Blaxland Ridge Rural Fire Brigade captain in 1995 and held the role for 13 years, and in 2008 became a Deputy Group Captain of Hawkesbury RFS.

Service recognised: Malcolm Bobrige has been a volunteer with the RFS for more than 38 years, 27 of those years served in the Hawkesbury. He has been named Hawkesbury's Citizen of the Year for 2020. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Service recognised: Malcolm Bobrige has been a volunteer with the RFS for more than 38 years, 27 of those years served in the Hawkesbury. He has been named Hawkesbury's Citizen of the Year for 2020. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Mr Bobrige was awarded the National Medal in 2004 for his diligent service to the NSW RFS.

"The Hawkesbury community has greatly benefited from Mal's achievements over the many years of his service as he has been a protector and first responder over many years when our community has been at their most vulnerable," a statement from Hawkesbury City Council said. "Through his astounding commitment and leadership, he has inspired many others to devote themselves to the protection of our community."

Council hosted this year's Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards and citizenship ceremony at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in Windsor today (Sunday).

2020 Young Citizen of the Year was Jesse Wijnans, a youth group leader who regularly volunteers at community events to support young people and uses his hearing and speech delay as an asset to teach others to be inclusive.

2020 Volunteer of the Year was Diane Sweeny, who has been a full time volunteer at Hawkesbury City Salvation Army for six years. As part of her work, Ms Sweeny coordinates and runs the Hope Market that runs every Tuesday.

The 2020 Community Arts Award went to Madyson Disbray, who supports young local musicians, and founder and chief executive of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Specific Resource Centre Michelle New was named a Local Hero.

Twenty-one-year-old Richie Benson also received a Local Hero Award for 2020 for his contribution to the local environment, after previously receiving a Young Landcare Leader award from Greater Sydney Local Land Services last year.

2020 Community Organisation of the Year went to the Pinks Finns Charity, which works to support, educate and help women and their families who have been diagnosed with cancer, and the 2020 Hawkesbury Environmental Award went to Hawkesbury Remakery, which raises awareness of reducing, reusing, recycling and up-cycling.

Windsor High School's Hawkesbury Schools Harvest Project was recognised for Cultural Heritage, a project which develops an inclusive food culture in that it looks at practices, attitudes and beliefs around the production, distribution and consumption of food.

Two locals were awarded the All Abilities Sportsperson of the Year.

Renee Hardy started in athletics 12 years ago at the tender age of four to help with her coordination. Ms Hardy is visually impaired and legally blind in one eye, and has represented her school, Windsor High School, at Zone, Regional, State and National Level for the past four years.

Sandy Freeman began swimming as a four-year-old and has been a member of Windsor Swim Club for many years. She was Australia's youngest competitor at the Special Olympics in 2011, and has gone on to break world records World Records and compete nationally and around the world.

2020 Sportsperson of the Year was archer Madaline Boyle, who has a long list of achievements including state and national records. In 2018 Madaline represented Australia in the World Indoor Championships in Yankton USA, her performance there resulting in a prestigious invitational sport scholarship from Lindsey Wilson College in Colombia, Kentucky USA.

She was ranked as the best female archer in Australia for the first quarter of 2018, and at the 2019 NSW State selection dinner Madaline was awarded the Kumite Junior Sports star of the year.

Junior Sportsperson of the Year was all-rounder Jasper Sinclair, who has achieved excellence in all sporting arenas in which he has played such as tennis, rugby league, AFL, cricket, soccer, swimming, athletics and cross country. He has represented the Hawkesbury at school, club, district, regional, representative and state levels.

Hawkesbury Mayor Barry Calvert said council was very proud to host the awards.

"Congratulations to all of our Australia Day Award recipients," Clr Calvert said. "Thank you for the many wonderful contributions you have made to our Hawkesbury community.

"Thank you also to the nominators, family and friends of the winners who have come to celebrate and honour the efforts of their loved ones and friends."

NSW Rural Fire Service Hawkesbury Superintendent, Karen Hodges, addressed the community about the bushfires as part of today's ceremony, and Cr Calvert acknowledged the impact of the current season's bushfires on the Hawkesbury community and further afield.

"We have witnessed so much destruction during the bushfires that started in spring 2019 and which are still burning," he said.

"These fires have caused so much devastation to our beautiful country. Ravaged lands, lives lost, wildlife decimated and properties and National Parks burnt.

"As this tragedy unfolded, we also witnessed the incredible devotion of volunteers giving literally months of their own time, during Christmas and the holiday season, and even now, to save our lives, our homes, our towns and environment wherever possible - at great personal cost..

"Thank you to the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service, the NSW Rural Fire Service, the State Emergency Service, the police, the RAAF and Defence Force, the State and Federal Government, and to our community members and everyone who has helped in any way.

"You are all making us proud to be Australian.

"This is a crucial time in our country, when we all need to keep our optimism and strength in the face of a crisis, at a time when all levels of government and their policies need to work with our community to make real changes to the way we respond to our climate, working together.

"The journey ahead will include rebuilding properties and businesses as well as replacing critical infrastructure destroyed or damaged in the bushfires. Importantly, it will also include mental health support for the many bushfire affected Australians, including our community members."

2020 Hawkesbury Australia Day Ambassador, Peter Frazer, brought home the importance of road safety in our community during his speech at the ceremony.

Mr Frazer's daughter, Sarah, was tragically killed in a Hume Freeway crash in 2012 while her broken-down car was loaded onto a tow-truck. Mr Frazer now devotes his life to advocating for those who are vulnerable and founded the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) group and National Road Safety Week.

The Hawkesbury also welcomed 45 new citizens in the special citizenship ceremony also held this morning at the Gallery.

New citizens were welcomed from a range of countries including the United States of America, Canada, China, Taiwan, Malta, Fiji, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Croatia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Italy.

"I congratulate all of the Australia Day citizenship candidates on making their decision to become Australian citizens," Cr Calvert said.

Council thanked North Richmond-Kurrajong Rotary and Windsor Girl Guides who hosted the barbecue lunch for both ceremonies.