From Maclean to Yamba – and everywhere in between – volunteers have been digging deep to help build a healthy and a well-connected Coffs Coast community. We celebrated those efforts today via our virtual ceremony for the Upper North Coast 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Special congratulations to our award winners; St John medico Brodie Cowling, bushfire recovery supporter Rebecca Beverly, advocate and supporter to the local Aboriginal community Helen Brown and the passionate and proud team of volunteers from Vinnies Coffs Harbour. Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and award nominees on the coast.

The 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year for the Upper North Coast region is Helen Brown from the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Justice Advocacy Service.

2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award recipients for Upper North Coast region are:

Young Volunteer of the Year – Brodie Cowling from Korora

Brodie has been volunteering for the past five years with the Coffs Harbour Division of St John Ambulance. He is a mentor to 70 local volunteers, providing training and leadership and outstanding community spirit.  

Adult Volunteer of the Year – Rebecca Beverly from Congarinni

Rebecca has been an inspirational support for the her local bushfire impacted community around Macksville. She helped her community in numerous ways, including setting up a recovery hub which contained a food hub, washing machine, showers, shelter and clothes, so people could return to their properties.

She has also engaged mental health and legal services, charities to help with grants, worked hard to get internet in the area for the first time, held a trivia night funding the back to school resources, and partnered with Rotary to create a tool library for those in need.

Senior Volunteer of the Year – Helen Brown from Yamba

Helen has made a life-long commitment to volunteering and her local Aboriginal community by providing professional and personal support and advocacy for people in need. Helen is a Board member of the Aboriginal Legal Service North Coast Region, as well as being a committee member for the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre.

She also finds time to volunteer for the Justice Advocacy Service and attends the Police Aboriginal Consultative Committee (PACC), Aboriginal Community Consultative Committee (ACCC) with Acmena Youth Justice Centre, and Clarence Valley Community Drug Action Team. She provides individual support wherever it is needed to members of the Aboriginal community – writing resumes, providing meals, clothes, transport to medical appointments and personal family support during difficult legal procedures.

Volunteer Team of the Year – The Vinnies Coffs Harbour Management Team

The Vinnies Coffs Harbour Management Team keep the highest standards for their local Vinnies shop, working every day to make sure the shop is dressed and looking its best for its customers. They worked to keep the shop open as long as possible during the COVID shut downs. However, when it did close they worked every day till 2pm to make sure it was ready to serve their customers when the time came.

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.