Volunteers from Newcastle, Bar Beach, Broadmeadow, Cardiff South, Belmont and Wallsend were recognised for their outstanding contribution at the 10th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards in Wallsend today.

The top award went to Claire Mudford of Wallsend who received both the overall 2016 Hunter Volunteer of the Year Award and the Student Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Chief Executive Officer of The Centre for Volunteering, Gemma Rygate, said volunteers improve people’s lives by helping out, keeping people connected and creating a sense of belonging in communities.

“This year The Centre for Volunteering received a record number of nominations: More than 7,500 nominations recognising more than 100,000 volunteers – a record number since the awards began 10 years ago,” Ms Rygate said.

“Volunteering is in the DNA of Australians: In NSW more than 2.3 million people volunteer – if volunteering were an industry it would employ more people than any other sector including mining and tourism,” Ms Rygate said.

Ms Rygate said Claire, a full-time student studying speech pathology, won both the Student and the Overall Volunteer of the Year for 2016 for her dedication to the Hydrotherapy and the Eye Gaze program helping children with cerebral palsy to become stronger and more flexible.

“Claire uses her professional skills to help the children communicate their needs and express their feelings more clearly during the hydrotherapy sessions,” Ms Rygate said.

“While the classes are stimulating for the children they are also very demanding and Claire’s skill as well as her calm and joyful manner gives the children both confidence and contributes to their enjoyment of the therapy.”

The Winners of the 2016 Hunter NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are:

Award Category Winner
Overall Winner

Volunteer of the Year

Claire Mudford, Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Student Volunteer of the Year Claire Mudford, Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Youth Volunteer of the Year
(up to 24 years)
Regan Williams, Belmont Neighbourhood Centre
Adult Volunteer of the Year

(25 – 64 years)

Artemez Belenus, Samaritans Foundation
Senior Volunteer of the Year

(65+ years)

Lucy Bates, Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Volunteer Team of the Year Robogals Newcastle, University of Newcastle

The Minister responsible for volunteering, John Ajaka, said the awards are an important way of recognising the vibrant contribution individual volunteers make towards strengthening communities across NSW.

“Our incredible volunteers make NSW the beautiful and rewarding place it is to live and work,” Mr Ajaka said.

“Central to volunteer satisfaction is meaningful recognition of the vital and diverse contribution of volunteers.”

Twenty regional Volunteer of the Year Award ceremonies are being held around the state.

All regional winners will be in the running for the overall NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, which are announced at a gala event in Sydney on Friday, December 2, in the lead up to International Volunteer Day.

The Volunteer of the Year Awards are generously supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, and ClubsNSW, the industry body which represents the states 1400 not-for-profit clubs, as well as Bupa Aged Care.


The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers in every region across NSW. Twenty award ceremonies are held across NSW from August to October where nominees are recognised with certificates and winners announced.

Regional winners will be entered into the overall State 2016 Volunteer of the Year.