Volunteers honoured in Australia Day awards

Radio presenter Martin Haynes and transplant recipient Jessica Sparks were among the winners last night at Wollongong City Council’s Australia Day awards dinner.

Haynes, who hosts a breakfast show on i98FM, was named Wollongong’s Citizen of the Year, honoured for his tireless fundraising work.

A champion of the annual Camp Quality Convoy for Kids, Haynes became involved with the organisation in 1997 and has helped raise almost $3.2 million in the Illawarra.

Ms Sparks, who received a double lung transplant in 2009, was named Young Citizen of the Year for her volunteer activities. Ms Sparks founded Sparking Life, an organisation dedicated increasing organ and tissue donation rates, and has won 16 medals for NSW at the Australian Transplant Games. 

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the winners had all made a positive impact on the Illawarra community.

‘‘The awards honour those who have dedicated their time and efforts to enriching our community,’’ Mr Bradbery said. ‘‘At the end of the day winners are selected but it’s important to acknowledge everyone whose names were put forward for these awards. Our community is richer thanks to their contribution.

‘‘It’s people like Martin Haynes and his selfless contributions to the people of Wollongong that make this place great.’’ Wollongong City Gallery volunteer Elspeth McCombe was the winner the Cultural Award for 2013. Ms McCombe has been involved with Wollongong City Gallery, as a volunteer, workshop leader and guide, since 1992.

The Community Award went to the Red Points Artists Association, which has fostered numerous projects in Port Kembla. The association was behind the revival of the Port Kembla Billy Cart Derby in November last year.

Mecenzi Howard, who has won a number of medals representing the state in the game of boccia, which is designed to be played by people with cerebral palsy, was the inaugural Sports Award winner. 

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