Local community leader Wendy Dalton has been selected at the 2018 NSW Adult Volunteer of the Year for her ongoing support for young aboriginal people, elders and aboriginal women around the Grafton and Brewarrina communities.

The announcement was made in front of more than 300 community, business and political leaders and marks the end of a state-wide six month search spanning 112,000 individual nominations across 20 separate regional and suburban award ceremonies.

The Awards are an annual event run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers in every region across NSW.

Thanks to Wendy, so many local young indigenous people and students have been able to pursue their interest in sport, dance and art.

She will personally drive young footballers to Queensland to play in competitions, help train and mentor young dancers so they can perform in Sydney and in theatres throughout regional NSW, and lead art classes in local nursing homes and community centres.

One of her most important contributions has been her support for local indigenous women fighting breast cancer.

Wendy is a breast cancer survivor herself and she has spent many hours supporting and mentoring other survivors in indigenous communities in Grafton, Brewarrina and Coffs Harbour. She is also an advocate for preventative health measures among indigenous women in her local communities.

For Wendy, these are important ways to help tackle other social issues facing indigenous communities, to bring members of her community together and help inspire them to be proud and to achieve.

“Hidden in many stories in local newspapers are wishes of thanks to Wendy and the words  – without her this would not have been possible” The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said.

“Wendy quietly does so much for her local community, out of the spotlight where her contribution is immense.

“It’s an honour to name Wendy Dalton the 2018 NSW Adult Volunteer of the Year.

“We hold these awards to highlight the contribution of all our volunteers. It gives us the opportunity to hear their stories, be inspired by their actions and pass on our thanks.”

The Awards are in their 12th year and have grown to become one of the biggest events recognising volunteering across the country.

The 2018 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs. They are also supported by Mint Awards and Thrifty Car & Truck Rentals.

NSW Minister responsible for Volunteering, the Hon. Ray Williams MP, said the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are an important way to recognise the contribution of the 2.1 million volunteers working throughout NSW.

“It was an honour to meet and talk with so many esteemed volunteers today who work so hard for their local communities,” Mr Williams said.

“I congratulate all our award finalists and those volunteers selected to receive the Volunteer of the Year Awards.

“You all make a special contribution to your local communities, right across NSW. We can all learn from hearing your stories and celebrating your efforts.”

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said that volunteers were the backbone of registered clubs across NSW.

“On behalf of an industry which relies upon 32,000 volunteers, I congratulate all of these deserving winners,” said Mr Ball.

“These awards recognise the huge contribution that volunteers make in their local communities, and ClubsNSW is proud to be a principal partner.

“Clubs across NSW rely on volunteers to help make their venues a great place to socialise, which in turn adds billions of dollars to the NSW economy every year.”

Photos of the event are kindly supplied by Michael Mannington, Volunteer Photography www.volunteerphotography.org, and are available to view here.

Further photos taken by Susan White of Corporate Digital, corporatedigital.com.au, are available here.