Volunteers from across the Mid North Coast were today recognised for their outstanding contribution to volunteering at a special ceremony in Port Macquarie. 

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering which has grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across the country.

Regional finalists for the awards are announced at 21 ceremonies throughout NSW and are invited to the Gala State Ceremony in Sydney to celebrate the NSW Volunteer of the Year.

The 2019 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award recipients for the Mid North Coast Region are:

Award CategoryWinner
Adult Volunteer of the YearJulie Ferguson, OzHarvest, from Coffs Harbour
Senior Volunteer of the YearGeoffrey Bond, Outback Links from Port Macquarie
Mid North Coast Volunteer of the YearJulie Ferguson, OzHarvest, from Coffs Harbour
Julie Ferguson and Mayor Peta Pinson, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said volunteers from across the region had given so much to the local community.

“Your volunteers build connections for people in towns and communities across the region,” Ms Rygate said.

“They help to build such positive experiences and links to services across health, education and community sectors. Our ceremony today recognises their work and gives us the chance to say thank you.”

Julie Ferguson was selected as the 2019 NSW Adult Volunteer of the Year and overall Volunteer of the Year for Mid North Coast region for her tireless work helping to provide healthy meals for people in need throughout Coffs Harbour.

Julie established the Coffs Harbour Ozharvest Chapter after being inspired by her own experiences as a child having to go to school hungry. Six years on, the local operations are now one of the biggest food rescue operations in regional NSW, having rescued over 202 tonnes of food destined for landfill from 50 local businesses and delivered more than 900,000 free healthy meals to people in need throughout the region.

Julie volunteers up to 40 hours each week and coordinates a team of 20 volunteers.

Geoffrey Bond has been volunteering for more than a decade, helping farming families in need in regional NSW and as far as Queensland with practical assistance and jobs around their properties. Geoffrey was named the 2019 NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year for the region.

Senior winner Geoffrey Bond and Mayor Peta Pinson, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council

View and download further photos from the event here.

The 2019 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the Department of Family and Community Services NSW and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said volunteers made an enormous contribution to local communities.

“A vibrant volunteering sector leads to healthy and strong communities,” Mr Ward said.

“In NSW, volunteers contribute more than $5 billion to the economy each year and their social contribution is even greater. The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are a fitting way to say thank you.”

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said that volunteers were the backbone of licensed clubs across the state, so it was a natural fit for the industry to support such an important program.

“The calibre of our local volunteers never ceases to amaze me, and I’m proud to represent an industry in which around 32,000 volunteers help to make clubs such great places,” Mr Ball said.

“I congratulate all the volunteers who were recognised at today’s ceremony for their dedication and commitment.”