Raymond Terrace community stalwart John Chambers was named the 2020 Port Stephens Citizen of the Year today.
The popular Rotary Club member has been recognised for his extensive contributions to the region, including a driver training program to help people get on the road and a furniture bank for families in need, among many other initiatives.
He is one of 11 residents and groups recognised at Port Stephens’ annual awards on January 26.
Mayor Ryan Palmer announced the winners at a small civic ceremony, due to COVID-19 restrictions, in Medowie.
“I’m incredibly proud of the many deserving people who have been honoured this year, particularly John Chambers,” he said.
“2020 hasn’t been the easiest year for many in our community, thanks to COVID-19, but our annual award recipients are certainly a shining light.
““All of them have generously given their time to help others, whether that’s through contributing to community groups and programs, caring for the environment, celebrating our culture or dedicating themselves to help our sporting organisations.
“They are fantastic role models and leaders in the Port Stephens community.
“I’m proud to be able to recognise their contributions today.
“I particularly love these awards because our recipients rarely ask for recognition or thanks — they simply love our community and they love what they do.
“That’s why it’s great to be able to show our appreciation for their contribution to making Port Stephens the incredible place that it is.
“To all of our nominees and winners, I want to thank you for all that you do for our community.”
The 2020 Port Stephens Annual Award winners:
Citizen of the Year — John Chambers
Since he retired from school teaching, John has thrown himself into supporting his local community. John has implemented many community programs to support our most vulnerable including a driver training program; a furniture bank which sees John collecting, storing and distributing household furniture to families in need; and a host of other initiatives. John spends a staggering 40-plus hours a week volunteering.
Young Citizen of the Year – Daniel Howard
Daniel has been a basketball coach and mentor with PCYC for the past 9 years since he was 16 years old. In April last year, in response to COVID lockdowns, he launched Coach Dan Skills and Drills on YouTube and Facebook to keep in touch with local basketball teens. His channels have attracted over 400 followers and helped to motivate local teens to keep fit during the lockdown.
Sportsperson of the Year: Maya Stewart
Cultural Endeavour: Kay Newton and Peter Robinson
Environmental Award: Lia and Ryan Pereira
Port Stephens Medals
(awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community)
- Dennis Peters: Dennis is the recently retired captain of the Raymond Terrace Fire and Rescue team. For 23 years, Dennis has been on the front line in countless firefighting and rescue efforts in our area. Passionate about community education, Peter has also been a local voice educating young people and our community about the importance of fire safety.
- John de Ridder: John has been the president of Caring for Port Stephens Youth (COPSY) since 2016. Passionate about mental health and wellbeing in young people, John has been an active member — advocating and seeking financial support for this important local charity. He was instrumental in securing funding and establishing a free counselling service for young people in the Tomaree area in 2019 and a telehealth service in 2020.
- Andrew Smith: A proud Wonnarua man, Andrew is a well-respected community leader in our area. Andrew has been the CEO of Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council since 2006 and has been instrumental in the Land Council going from strength to strength. He is dedicated to advocating for and strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, and to protecting and fostering Aboriginal culture and identity.
- Medowie Girl Guides: The Medowie Girl Guides has been part of the Port Stephens community for over 40 years. A dedicated group of leaders and volunteers give their time to help teach young women new skills, develop independence, build confidence, make friends and become active community members.