Wollongong ‘‘living treasure’’ Les Dion Senior was last night named the city’s first Senior Citizen of the Year.
Mr Dion is part of the well known Dion’s Bus Service family and drove buses throughout the Illawarra for more than 70 years.
‘‘Les and his brothers were well known for their free ride policy for anyone who couldn’t afford a fare,’’ Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said at last night’s awards ceremony.
‘‘He is truly one of the Illawarra’s living treasures.’’
Former chief executive of Greenacres Disability Services Neil Preston was named Wollongong Citizen of the Year in recognition of his work to create ground-breaking programs for people with disabilities.
‘‘Neil’s impact on the quality of life achieved and maintained by people with a disability in the Illawarra is an inspiration, ’’ Cr Bradbery said.
For the first time, two people shared the Young Citizen of the Year award – siblings Ethan and Macinley Butson.
They were recognised for their achievements in the medical and environmental fields respectively.
‘‘The judges just could not split these two very talented young people,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
‘‘Ethan and Macinley have received various state and national awards for their medical and environmental innovations.’’
Bill and Ann Lever received the Cultural Award for their support of the arts in the region.
Carol Herben was highly commended for her contribution to conserving Wollongong’s heritage, and Angela Saville won the Sports Award for her dedication to promoting fitness in the Illawarra.
The 2014 Community Award was presented to Need-a-Feed, a local charity that provides food parcels to struggling families.
The University of Wollongong’s Solar Decathlon China 2013 team received the Lord Mayor’s Special Award.
There were 40 nominations for the awards.