Parkinson’s Disease advocate Dr Helen Tolhurst was honoured as Maitland’s 2020 Citizen of the Year at today’s Australia Day ceremony.
And, inspiring youth Ally Meyn took home the Young Citizen of the Year crown on Tuesday 26 January.
A former GP of 18 years, as well as a keen artist, Dr Tolhurst was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in January 2019.
She then decided to do something to improve the Maitland community’s capacity to assist and understand the challenges that people with Parkinson’s face.
Through determination and leadership, she helped establish networks and support groups within the township for those living with Parkinson’s Disease and their families.
Dr Tolhurst also uses her passion for art to raise awareness about Parkinson’s in her most recent art exhibition, where all proceeds went to the Maitland Parkinson’s Support Group.
“The Maitland Citizen of the Year is an award which recognises and celebrates an individual who has shown good citizenship, determination, enthusiasm and commitment through their service to our community,” Maitland mayor Loretta Baker said.
“Helen has demonstrated each of these characteristics helping build networks and support groups for people in our community who live with Parkinson’s Disease.
“She would have helped countless people in our community in her time as a GP.
“And, through her inspiring energy, Helen has now built a support group that has assisted many local residents who are living with Parkinson’s.”
Ms Meyn was also recognised for her contribution to Maitland.
She’s passionate about improving the lives of those less fortunate or disadvantaged within the community.
In 2020 alone, she contributed to successfully supporting more than 300 disadvantaged, disabled or vulnerable residents find meaningful employment while also building awareness within the business community about the value of employing those with special needs.
Ms Meyn mentors local youth, too, to help them achieve their employment dreams and is the president of the local Business Network International Group.
“We are so lucky to have people like Ally in Maitland who are selflessly dedicated to assisting those less fortunate in our community,” Cr Baker said.
Along with the two award recipients, 28 people became Australian citizens as part of Maitland’s official Australia Day ceremony.