For almost six decades, Paul Goldman has dedicated his time and energy to the Cessnock community.
So, it was fitting the long-term resident took home Citizen of the Year award at Performance Arts Culture Cessnock (PACC) on Friday 26 January.
More than 350 people attended the annual Australia Day awards and citizenship ceremony, which also welcomed 18 newcomers to the LGA.
Delma White was named Senior Citizen of the Year, while Young Citizen of the Year went to Alliyah Bromell, with Kate Rutledge taking out the Maree Callaghan Award for the young female achiever.
A contributor to the Newcastle Weekly, Mark Bercini, collected Sportsperson of the Year with heritage awards handed to the Richmond Vale Trail Inc Group and Lexie Matthews.
Several community honours were presented to Matilda Gibson, Bronte Gibson, Nicky Ainley, Camilla Dorsch and Martin Parker, too.
In a special moment, Cessnock City Council also recognised the significant contribution that many organisations and individuals made during the response to the Hunter Valley bus tragedy.
NSW Police Force Singleton and Cessnock, NSW Ambulance, Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW State Emergency Service – Northern Zone, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Health, Hunter Community Committee, Disaster Recovery Anglicare, Australian Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Uniting Church NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network, North Rothbury RFS Brigade, The Lions Club Branxton Inc, Branxton Community Hall, Transport for NSW and VRA Rescue NSW received an award to thank them for their efforts and care for the community.
Cessnock City Council Australia Day Award winners
Citizen of the Year – Paul Goldman
Paul has shown outstanding involvement in the Cessnock community for more than 58 years. The Goldman business was named the Chamber of Commerce Business of The Year in 1994 and Paul boasts a long list of ways he has shown support in his community, including being foundation member of the Cessnock Mental Health Group, a life committee member of St Patrick’s Primary School, sponsoring local sporting groups and schools, and supporting charities including Aspect Hunter School for Autism and Heart kids.
Senior Citizen of the Year – Delma White
Delma has shown outstanding involvement and dedication to the community, including her involvement in the Abermain Eisteddfod, Cessnock Choir and hosting an incredible 700 fashion parades to raise money for charity.
Young Citizen of the Year – Alliyah Bromell
Alliyah is a proud Aboriginal artist and president of the Junior Aboriginal Education Consultative Group at Kurri Kurri High School for 2024. She was selected for a Department of Education art competition, and linked with art mentor Jakob Watson. Alliyah has been able to share her creativity with the wider community through her online business where she creates individual designs for others to help them feel more connected to their culture, and to aide in telling their stories through art.
Maree Callaghan Award Young Female Achiever Award – Kate Rutledge
Kate is a member of the Rotoract Club of Maitland and volunteered with both the Kurri Kurri and East Maitland Rotary clubs in an effort to help in these local communities. Back in 2000, Kate s father became sick with Motor Neurone Disease and sadly passed a few months later. Devastated by the loss of her dad, she approached Rotary and instigated a campaign to raise both awareness, and a significant amount of money for MND. She’s been an inspiration for so many other young people and shown the things they can do to better their own communities.
Community Event of the Year Award – Coal Services, Mining & Energy Union and Coalfields Local Historical Association
Coordination of the Bellbird Mine Disaster Centenary Event, with the event acknowledging and paying tribute to family, friends, community and industry members who were eternally impacted by the disaster 100 years ago.
Heritage Award – Richmond Vale Trail Inc Group
Advocating strongly for preservation and development of the old Richmond Vale Rail Trail. In more recent years, their preservation work has led them to collaborate with local councils, state and federal government in a push to develop the Richmond Vale Rail Trail into a placemaking, eco-tourism adventure trail.
Heritage Award – Lexie Mathews
Lexie is a life-long resident of the Cessnock LGA and has been a volunteer member of the Coalfields Local History Association and the Sir Edgeworth David Memorial Museum for more than 20 years. Lexie’s continued passion and dedication to preserving the rural and coalfields heritage of the region has ensured the survival and growth of the Sir Edgeworth David Memorial Museum.
Sportsperson of the Year – Mark Bercini
Mark is the epitome of an all-rounder and has had a significant impact on the sporting community within Greta-Branxton and expanding into the Cessnock area. Over the years, he has both played for, and dedicated his time to, the Greta-Branxton Colts Rugby League Club, Greta-Branxton United Cricket Club, Greta-Branxton Touch Football Association, along with the Branxton Golf Club.
Community Award – Matilda Gibson
During her time as 2023 Youth Ambassador for Cessnock City Council, the past 12 months has seen Matilda donate her time to collaboratively fundraising $2,000 for the Ronald McDonald Dance for Sick Kids with her sister, raising over $1,000 with her sister for Swim for Sick Kids, and purchasing school resource items for the Back Pack Venture to support children in the bush and in flood-affected areas starting the new school year. Additionally, she purchased and donated toys to the Friends with Dignity Charity, participated in the Legacy 100 Walk with her father and sister, and donated to Share the Dignity with her family. Additionally, as the 2022 NSW Ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation, Matilda chose to give $5,000, generously donated by Specsavers, to the Fred Hollows Foundation s work in Vietnam.
Community Award – Bronte Gibson
Donating her time to collaboratively fundraising $2,000 for the Ronald McDonald Dance for Sick Kids with her sister, raising over $1,000 with her sister for Swim for Sick Kids, and purchasing school resource items for the Back Pack Venture to support children in the bush and in flood affected areas starting the new school year. Additionally, she purchased and donated toys to the Friends with Dignity Charity, participated in the Legacy 100 Walk with her father and sister, and donated to Share the Dignity with her family.
Community Award – Nicky Ainley
In response to the tragic Hunter Valley bus crash in 2023 that claimed the life of 10 people, Nicky organised a vigil for the community. She led the coordination of a community gathering, with support services available on site, for those who were struggling and needing support during an incredibly difficult time.
Community Award – Camilla Dorsch
Contributing and raising funds for many local organisations such as the tennis club, Laguna and Wollombi brigades, and the Wollombi Progress Association, Camilla has also contributed extensively to Wollombi-based community groups and events such as the Wollombi Sculpture Festival, Wollombi Arts Council, and Wollombi School Community Education Trust. To this day, she remains an active member of Wollombi Brigade in addition to local theatre company, Valley Artists.
Community Award – Martin Parker
Starting the Kurri Mongrels Mountain Bike Club, which is today one of the biggest community support groups in the area, cycling far and wide for charity fundraising, and donating more than $300,000 to well-known charitable organisations over the past 10 years, Martin has excelled in guiding the club and his active involvement has been instrumental in organising charity events.
For more community stories:
- Dr Janece McDonald’s top gong a slice of history
- New citizen Richard’s keen to embrace all things ‘Aussie’… except the Wallabies
- Superintendent Joanne Schultz awarded Australian Police Medal
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