Shining lights of Lake Macquarie’s community were recognised for their tireless service, talent and dedication as part of the annual Lake Mac Awards last night.
Disability services advocate Jonathon Power was named 2021 Lake Mac Ambassador at Saturday night’s (13 March) gala ceremony at Belmont 16s for his work with people with disability and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Mr Power established Lake Mac-based Empowered Community Services in 2017, taking inspiration from his years of support for both his parents, both of whom have lifelong disability.
“Jonathon has not only embraced the challenges in his life, but has used them as a driving force to help people in need and make the community a better place for everyone,” Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said.
With profoundly deaf mum Amanda by his side, Mr Power said it was “a huge surprise” to win the award.
“I’ve grown up in Lake Macquarie my whole life, and to be recognised as someone to represent the City is an honour,” he added.
“I want to make sure everyone is treated equally, that people with disability aren’t stereotyped and to make sure the community is more inclusive as a whole.”
Lake Macquarie Year 7 student Jasmine Seidel was named Lake Mac Young Citizen of 2021 for her years of selfless effort that bely her young age.
The 11-year-old started raising money for charity aged just seven and, has since, supported various organisations including the John Hunter Children’s Hospital oncology ward, HeartKids and Multiple Sclerosis Limited.
“I think helping people is something we should all do,” Jasmine said.
“It will make a better world for my generation and future generations to grow up in.
“One drop really does make an ocean.”
NSW and Australian women’s rugby league star Hannah Southwell was named Lake Mac Sports Star for 2021.
She has vice-captained the NSW Origin team, won the 2020 Women’s NRL Rugby League Players Association Player of the Year award and has also represented Australia in rugby sevens and soccer.
NSW SES volunteer Christine Speer was recognised for her 40 years of service with the organisation, taking out the Lake Mac Volunteer of the Year award for outstanding community contribution.
Ms Speer has served on the frontline during some of the most significant emergency events of the past four decades, including the 2007 Pasha Bulker storm and the 2017 Lismore floods.
Almost 70 people were nominated for this year’s Lake Mac Awards across 10 categories, covering sports, the arts, the environment and community groups.
Glendale Technology High School student Emily Jones won the Lake Mac Rising Sports Star award for her achievements in swimming, while Awesome Lake Mac, which provides financial support to community-led projects and activities, was named Community Group of the Year.
Circular economy pioneer Samantha Cross was named 2021 Lake Mac Environmental Leader.
Her Plastic Police local community engagement program has saved more than 65 million pieces of soft plastics from landfill since its inception in 2015.
“With COVID-19, this past year has shown us how important it is to remain strong as a community, and how much value we should place in the people who go out of their way to help others,” Cr Fraser said.
“I want to congratulate all finalists and nominees for their ongoing dedication, their passion and their commitment to Lake Macquarie.”
2021 Lake Mac Awards winners list
- Lake Mac Ambassador: Jonathon Power
- Lake Mac Artist and Creator: Melody Jones
- Lake Mac Artist and Creator: Piper Butcher (Highly Commended)
- Lake Mac Arts Leader: Jessica Conneely
- Lake Mac Community Group of the Year: Awesome Lake Mac
- Lake Mac Environmental Leader: Samantha Cross – Plastic Police
- Lake Mac Rising Sports Star: Emily Jones
- Lake Mac Sports Leader: Benjamin Jenkinson
- Lake Mac Sports Star: Hannah Southwell
- Lake Mac Volunteer of the Year: Christine Speer – NSW SES
- Lake Mac Young Citizen of the Year: Jasmine Seidel