Volunteers from Sydney’s East have helped keep us safe, active, connected and as healthy as could be. They are the life blood of the local community.

It was fitting to take the time today to say thank you -virtually speaking – for the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.

A special mention to our award winners Cerebral Palsy Alliance volunteer Naomi Arnold, South Maroubra life saver Mathew Harper, Gillian Thomas OAM who has been giving her time over three decades for polio survivors and the hundred strong team from The Ankali Project – supporting people with HIV in so many ways.

The 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year for the Eastern Suburbs and Sydney East region is Mathew Harper from Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club.

2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award recipients for the Eastern Suburbs are:

Young Volunteer of the Year – Naomi Arnold from Edgecliff

Naomi Arnold began her volunteering in her final year of school in 2017 with the multi-sports team – one of many programs at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance that improves the confidence, wellbeing and independence skills of people with physical and intellectual disabilities. She has been a constant supporter over the past three years, raising money and supporting other music and sports activities.

Adult Volunteer of the Year – Mathew Harper from Matraville

Mathew has taken his volunteering with the Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club to another level over the past 15 years. He has helped grow the beach awareness and lifesaving skills of thousands of people of all ages and abilities. The club captain and surf rescue leader shows an inspirational commitment to volunteering, beachgoers and his local community.

Senior Volunteer of the Year – Gillian Thomas OAM from Kensington

Gillian has shown an unparalleled commitment to volunteering and for polio survivors over the past three decades. The founding committee member of Polio NSW and Polio Australia supports polio survivors understand and manage the recurring pain from the disease. She trains medical professionals and advocates for better support and awareness of the disease and its impact.

Volunteer Team of the Year – The Ankali Project Volunteers

The 115 volunteers at the Ankali Project support people living with HIV as well as their friends and family members.The volunteers are aged between 20 and 80, and provide personal support that in some cases has lasted more than 20 years. They provide emotional and social support across the LGBTIQ, heterosexual and refugee communities and help to lessen the stigma surrounding the HIV illness.

Regional finalists for the awards are announced at 25 ceremonies throughout NSW and are invited to the Gala State Ceremony for the announcement of the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year.

The 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs.