Australia Day Award Nominees 2013

Sporting life recognised: Hayley McNeill

Three boatloads of volunteers will collect Eurobodalla Sports Achievement Awards tonight, along with young golf star Hayley McNeill.

Surf life saving boat crews from Batemans Bay will be honoured tonight in the Eurobodalla’s Australia Day awards.

For more coverage of Australia Day celebrations across the shire:

- Get set to celebrate Australia Day

The under 23 Men’s, the Masters Ladies and the Open Men’s crews have excelled in competition and in volunteer patrols.

Individual crews have won Australian, NSW or World Life Saving Championships, while members have spent a minimum of 40 hours on patrol and with Nippers. Two younger members were commended for their bravery in a Batemans Bay rescue.

Ms McNeill is a member of NSW’s girls golfing squad and holds a scholarship with the South East Regional Academy of Sport. She was named Athlete of the Year for the Golf Program in 2012. Hayley will interrupt her HSC studies in March to represent SERAS in Thailand at the World Schools Golf Challenge. Ms McNeill, 16, said her hard work over the past two years ago has paid off.

“I was pleased to get it because I had worked hard all last year,” the Lilli Pilli resident said.

“At every tournament I have had a better result.”

Bitten by the life saving bug: Marco Cardinale

AS a child, Marco Cardinale was grateful to the Sydney surf life savers who treated his bluebottle stings, but they might be grateful to know he was bitten by something else. 

Their efforts inspired that Blacktown boy to become a surf life saver himself.

Mr Cardinale will tonight receive an achievement award for his 28-year contribution to Moruya Surf Life Saving Club.

“It has been my lifestyle,” the club caretaker said.

“It was something I aspired to as a boy. I was taken by the lifeguards at Bronte beach, who at the time were the (band) Delltones. They used to sing and always be happy. 

“When I took the job on here, I got my qualifications and thought the best way to see the club prosper was to have more members and train them to do the job.

 “My father was passionate about the ocean and drove us an hour and half through the traffic every weekend to Bronte Beach. I got treated plenty of times for bluebottle stings and I respected what life savers did.”

Mr Cardinale said immortality was impossible, but “if you pass your skills and knowledge on to other people, they live on.”

Otto loves to have a chat: Otto Eichler

Otto Eichler loves meeting and talking to people and that quality has served others well for 23 years.

The 84-year-old still spends several days each week driving people to their medical or other appointments for Eurobodalla Community Transport.

The Narooma man joined on September 4, 1990, because retirement just wasn’t for him.

“I was only 59 and I felt I needed a job to keep me going,” he said.

“I had been in charge of the Nepean Dam for the Sydney Metropolitan Water Board. 

“I like to meet people, I like to talk to people and have a bit of a joke. I say, don’t you worry, if you worry that is the end of the season. I take the ladies shopping and I help them if they need help. It is excellent. As long as I can do it, I will.”

Mr Eichler was born in 1929, in East Prussia, 23 kilometres from the Lithuanian border and came to Australia in 1955.

Award for marine rescues: Richard Wright

Richard Wright can’t remember his first rescue, but 18 years on he still gets a kick out of helping people.

“Strike a light! Now you’ve got me,” he declared when asked to recall the first time he went to a mariner’s aid.

Mr Wright will tonight receive an achievement award for his work with the Eurobodalla’s Marine Rescue team.

He is noted for his keen eyesight, and many boaters rescued after being dunked in the sea have reason to be grateful for it.

Mr Wright is also known for his “NRMA” role, helping out with engine trouble, no fuel or flat batteries.

He wants everyone to wear lifejackets, especially crossing the bars, and for country boaters to check their engines and fuel before heading out.

“They get their boats out with old fuel and then they won’t go,” he said.

He wants to help out for another two years, to take his tally up to 20.

Young ones making their mark: Tamara Kenny

Tamara Kenny says she is passionate about social justice and hopes studying law will make a difference for others.

The Narooma 17-year-old will tonight receive an achievement award from Eurobodalla Shire Council for her school and community leadership.

She will soon begin her law degree at the University of NSW and admitted to being excited and “a little scared”.

“I am really passionate about social justice and thought doing a law degree would allow me to fulfill my aspirations in helping those who are in need,” she said.

The indigenous student was considered a natural leader at Narooma High School.

“I would like other younger people to see that they can do things they want to do in life and not be held back,” she said. 

“With my culture, I feel I am showing younger indigenous students that you can push past barriers and do what you want. You do not have to be stopped by anybody.” 

Ms Kenny was nominated for Young Citizen of the Year for her SRC activities and her social and academic contributions.

30 years and still delivering: Anne de Vries

Anne de Vries first delivered a dish for Meals on Wheels in August 1983 and will do the same today.

Tonight, however, Mrs de Vries will accept an achievement award from Eurobodalla Shire Council for her 30-years on the road in Narooma.

She said the move to frozen meals had reduced the work and delivery load.

“Deliveries are only once a week now and it is so much easier,” she said.

Mrs de Vries also manages the roster and other administration. She was named Narooma’s citizen of the year three years ago and was surprised to be nominated for this year’s award.

She came to Australia from Holland in 1952 and this weekend will celebrate with her husband John their 60th wedding anniversary.

Riding high after nomination: Brian Clarke

Brian Clarke will tonight accept an achievement award driven by his passion for all things equine.

The Moruya horseman was the community’s representative on the Eurobodalla Heritage Committee and played a major role in mapping historic bridle tracks in the shire. 

He successfully lobbied for the tracks to be reopened.

Mr Clarke said the award took him by surprise.

“I had to read the letter two or three times to know what was going on,” he said this week.

“I have been involved in the horse industry all my life. It is a passion, but it is also about putting back into the shire and the community.”

Mr Clarke ran a thoroughbred stud and still takes a keen interest in racing and in stock horses.

Award for long-time mayor: Chris Vardon

The 2013 Jeff Britten Award for the Pursuit of Excellence will tonight be awarded to Chris Vardon OAM.

Mr Vardon is being recognised for his service to local government and to the community. He served on Eurobodalla Shire Council for 20 years, for 12 of them as president and mayor. 

Mr Vardon has contributed to the community in many ways, including to education, tourism, health, business and especially the Lions Club. In 2003 Chris received the OAM for service to local government, and to the Eurobodalla.

Mr Vardon was not re-elected at the September local government poll but is enjoying his extra time.

“The community was wiser than me,” he said.

“It was a very pleasant thing to have done that, but it is much more pleasant at my age, not to be doing it.”

Mr Vardon said the late Jeff Britten, in whose honour the annual award is given, was “a great friend and mentor to me”.

“I first went into council on a group led by him and was his deputy.”

Mr Vardon said they had set about “restoring the council’s reputation”, but he would not be drawn on an assessment of the current council.

“One thing Jeff taught me was that once you were gone, shut up,” he said. “Let other people go on and make decisions, good and bad.”

Mr Vardon said he was proud of helping to secure the University of Wollongong campus and of having libraries in each town. He leads South East Australian Transport Strategy Inc and says he will “never retire”.

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