A community care pastor who has helped many people and families who have suffered from depression, mental illness and grief is the new Corrimal Citizen of the Year.
Louise (Lou) Beaton was in the crowd when her name was read out by Illawarra Mercury editor Julian O'Brien as winner of the annual Cossies R Us Corrimal Citizen of the Year Award.
The announcement came one day after Spring Into Corrimal chair Paul Boultwood called the Corrimal Region Uniting Church pastor and asked if she would pray for the wind to ease.
The organising committee were nervous after Bellambi recorded the strongest gust of wind in the state on Saturday.
But those prayers were answered and by 11am Mr Boultwood said there were more people in Memorial Park than he had ever seen that early.
Which prompted him to predict 40,000 people had already arrived before the official opening at midday. By 10am up to 20,000 people had already flocked to the main street for the grand parade.
Ms Beaton was recognised as the Corrimal Citizen of the Year for many reasons not just the important work she had done in her role at Corrimal Uniting Church.
She was a member of the executive of Corrimal Chamber of Commerce for many years and helped coordinate events as part of the Spring Into Corrimal organising committee.
Mr Boultwood said she was also instrumental in the revitalisation of Corrimal.
She worked with Corrimal Region Action Group to help write the Corrimal Town Plan which Wollongong City Council adopted in 2015.
She has also been a member of City Serve and helped redevelop the garden area of Corrimal High School.
"Louise is a true community leader and has worked with numerous community projects to help the citizens of Corrimal and surrounds as a volunteer," he said.
Ms Beaton said the Spring Into Corrimal chairman asked her to be in the crowd on Sunday but she had no idea she was going to happen.
"Never in a million years I expected it would be this. It is such an honour. Corrimal Uniting Church gave me a new lease of life. Without them I never would have had the opportunity to do what I have done".