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2012 Seniors Week Achievement Awards

18 March 2012

The oldest qualified personal trainer in NSW, an 87-year-old marine engineer who restores tall ships, an 81-year-old Tai Chi instructor, the 73-year-old founder of one of Australia’s largest commercial cleaning contractors and an 82-year-old Ju-Jitsu instructor are among the 2012 NSW Seniors Week Achievement Award recipients.

Minister for Ageing, Andrew Constance, today congratulated all 60 award recipients, who were recognised in six categories, at a ceremony at the City Recital Hall in Sydney.

“These people display a wide variety of skills, energy and enthusiasm and truly Live Life which is the theme of Seniors Week,” Mr Constance said.

“They unselfishly give their time to help and improve the lives of others in their communities.

“I am honoured to able to recognise their achievements.”

Today’s ceremony marks the official opening of Seniors Week which is in its 54th year and is the biggest seniors’ event in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Minister said an estimated 250,000 seniors are expected to attend more than 900 local events throughout the state starting tomorrow and finishing on Sunday, 25 March.

“Around 30,000 seniors alone will attend the Premier’s three Gala Concerts being staged at the Sydney Entertainment Centre tomorrow and Tuesday,” Mr Constance said.

“Extra Cityrail services are running between Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast and South Coast to help seniors travelling to and from the concerts.

“The use of light rail and buses between Sydney Entertainment Centre and Central

Station is also included in the price of the cost of the pensioner excursion ticket.”

Nominations for the 2013 NSW Seniors Week Achievement Awards will open in August 2012. For information go to:

Biographies for Seniors Week Achievement Award recipients


Jae Kyung (Jack) Lee, 73 of Breakfast Point, is a successful Korean-Australian businessman and philanthropist. He is the founding Chairman of ‘Jae My Holdings’, one of the largest commercial cleaning contractors in Australia, which he built from scratch. He continues to lead his business and now employs 2,000 people throughout Australia. Jack has made many generous donations to charities, educational programs and relief appeals. He continually shows support to the SBS radiothons, the Sydney Children’s Hospital and personal scholarships for students in need. Jack truly believes ‘age is nothing but a number’.

Christopher Mullett, 61 of Woodlands, is the Managing Editor and Publisher of three highly competitive national car magazines - Eco Car, Delivery Magazine and Power Torque. Each publication has grown to dominate its individual market. His equally experienced contributors, most aged over 60, possess a collective wealth of knowledge that only a lifetime career in motoring media can bring.

Robert Vincent, 70 of Blacktown, is a small business owner who has trained more than 20 apprentice hairdressers and assisted numerous work experience students and trainees over his 50 years in business. Robert has also taught hairdressing at TAFE, is a life member of the Apex Club of Blacktown and has been a member of Blacktown Rotary for 29 years. He was Blacktown Small Business Businessman of the Year in 2010-11.

Community Service

Robert Barrett, 76 of Bowral, as President of Rotary in 2001, formed a committee to raise half a million dollars over 10 years for a renal dialysis centre at Bowral Hospital. In 2007, he commenced a university degree and has graduated with a double major in philosophy and psychology. Robert has been a Rotarian for 20 years and intends to use his degree to work in community mental health.

Trevor Barrett, 83 of Cherrybrook, is a retired Minister who initiated leisure and learning Outreach programs for the ageing community 14 years ago. These programs now attract up to 160 people every week. As Project Coordinator, Trevor manages the program’s publicity, runs introductory computer classes and conducts talks. 

Lucia Bokulic, 68 of Hallidays Point, is a volunteer who helps local multicultural communities. She is the founding President of the University of the Third Age in Manning Valley, where she taught creative writing and computer skills. Lucia also established a Global Friendship Group that assisted with multicultural access at the local hospital; presents a community radio program in English and German; was named Greater Taree City Council’s Citizen of the Year in 2007; is President of the Manning Valley Senior Citizens Association; and serves on the Social development committee of Greater Taree City Council.

Gwen Bourchier, 90 of Narromine, still has a driver’s licence and helps to transport people to church and social outings. She also plays the piano at day care centres; is a St Vincent de Paul Society volunteer; and regularly visits elderly and sick residents in their homes.

Betty Burgman, 70 of Tamworth, has selflessly dedicated her time for the good of the Tamworth community for more than 45 years. She has worked in school canteens, delivered for Meals on Wheels and transports people to and from hospital and medical appointments.

Kevin Callinan, 69 of St Ives Chase, is the driving force behind the success of the Ku-ring-gai Community Workshop, “The Shed” Inc. Initially designed as a woodworking project for men, the continually expanding workshop now offers classes for women in woodwork and light engineering, and cooking classes for men who have become widowers or carers. Kevin is a volunteer with Youth off the Streets and the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Kevin Carberry, 69 of Coolah, has been a volunteer ranger for National Parks and Wildlife for 11 years and Regional Director at the National Parks and Wildlife foundation for four years. He is an examiner with St Johns Ambulance and a Leader for Port Kembla, Dapto and Coolah Scouts. Kevin has most recently mentored vulnerable youth at the Coolah Men’s Shed, restoring an historical wooden wagon.

Horace Cross, 90 of Maroubra, continues to serve the armed forces as a volunteer with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association and The Returned Services League of Australia. He travels from his home to Victoria Barracks to collect copies of the community newsletter and prepares them for mailing. Horace cycles 10 kilometres a day on an exercise bike and the primary carer for his autistic daughter.

Janet Godsell, 70 of Marsfield, is a dedicated professional diversional therapist who has worked with people diagnosed with dementia for more than 20 years. She runs a pastoral program for the often overlooked spiritual needs of people with dementia and leads one of the longest-running carer support groups for Alzheimer's Australia NSW. 

Nancy Henstock, 80 of Albion Park, along with Joyce Morgan, is a driving force at the Albion Park Seniors Social Group. They organise an annual variety concert during Seniors Week which attracts large audiences from the local community, including nursing homes. Nancy is a member of the local Red Cross and a long serving member of Albion Park View Club. She is also involved in raising funds for cancer research and Wollongong Hospital.

Van Liem Huynh, 81 of Marrickville, is a volunteer Tai Chi teacher and trainer of Tai Chi instructors. Each week he conducts classes for around 100 students of all ages from different community associations around Marrickville. Van Liem, a former refugee from Vietnam, visits Tai Chi masters in China and Vietnam to maintain a high standard for his students.

Tony Jenkins, 69 of Stanhope Gardens, is a community broadcaster and trainer. As Chair of the Cumberland Community FM Radio station, Tony passes on his knowledge as a trainer of volunteers of all ages through his broadcasts and has revamped the station’s content to address important social and health issues facing his community. He also hosts his own popular music program and morning magazine show.

Alan Joffe, 72 of Vaucluse, is Treasurer of The Shalom Institute and the Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Scholarship program. The Institute provides and maintains a high standard residential facility for University of NSW students and is helping to fund Aboriginal medical students through the exhibition and sale of Aboriginal art. Alan volunteers for Meals on Wheels and also administers the annual Harmony Day Poster Songwriting competition in NSW schools.

Barry Jones, 87 of Gladesville, has 42 years experience as a marine engineer. He is a volunteer at the Sydney Heritage Fleet shipyard where he designed an innovative method of riveting spars to restore the colonial ship, the James Craig, in Sydney Harbour. Barry now leads a team restoring the coastal steamer, the John Oxley, continuing to demonstrate his belief of giving back to society.

Albert John Kirk, 70 of Glen Innes, is a well-respected Aboriginal elder dedicated to helping indigenous communities in northern NSW. To help improve future prospects for his people, he shares his experience and cultural knowledge in community engagement sessions for all ages, including people with a disability. John helped implement the Work for the Dole Program in Moree and worked at Roy Thorne House which provides secure, culturally appropriate accommodation for people with substance abuse disorders. 

Joyce Morgan, 81 of Albion Park, is, together with Nancy Henstock, a mainstay of the Albion Park Seniors Social Group. The group makes items to raise funds for cancer carers and holds regular social get-togethers for the community. Joyce is also a member of the Oak Flats Lioness Club and can often be seen at the Shellharbour Shopping Centre cooking sausages to raise funds for worthwhile community causes.

David Morison, 62 of Faulconbridge, is a qualified Optical Dispenser who runs a mobile optical service. In 2006, he began visiting customers in their homes, aged care facilities and retirement villages to make, repair and clean eyewear. David’s home service covers a considerable area between Blackheath in the Blue Mountains and Kingswood in Sydney’s west.

Michael O’Connell, 84 of Arncliffe, has been a volunteer driver with the Sisters of Charity Outreach Community Care since 1998. Rural families arriving in Sydney by train or plane are met by Michael who drives them to medical appointments and accommodation, as well as chauffeuring children to and from the Angel Flights that land at Bankstown Airport.

Noel Parkinson, 67 of Caringbah, is a full-time volunteer with Marine Rescue NSW. For the past 10 years, he has dedicated more than 40 hours a week to boating and water safety at the former Australian Volunteer Coastguard. Noel has also committed 40 years of work to the NSW Police Force which has led him to a life committed to community work. He is the Commander of the Port Hacking Flotilla on whom the local fishing, boating and sailing community rely around the clock.

Vilma Ryan, 72 of Goonellabah, a proud Wiradjuri woman, is a lifelong activist for justice for the Aboriginal people. Vilma has been a volunteer at Redfern’s Murrawina Preschool; set up a culturally appropriate, non-discriminatory school in Newtown; helped launch the authenticity label for Aboriginal artists; and counsels people in need. In 2010, Vilma was named an Unsung Hero and was a torch bearer at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Les Sanford, 76 of Bella Vista, leads the Hornsby Woodworking Men’s Shed which offers fully equipped and supervised workshops where men can tackle a range of projects including making safe and fun children’s toys and other goods for charity. As President for the past nine years, Les has built up the Hornsby Shed’s membership to more than 100, making it one of the best-equipped and patronised in Sydney. Les’ efforts have helped many older men overcome a range of issues including personal problems, redundancy and bereavement. 

Michael Scully, 70 of Belmont North, is a yachtsman who volunteers with the Belmont 16-footers Sailability Club, working with amateur sailors who are elderly or have a disability. For the past 10 years, Mike has been on, and often in, the waters of Lake Macquarie four days a week, 47 weeks of the year, building the confidence of his charges and ensuring they have a safe and enjoyable sailing trip.

Ying Seow, 78 of Strathfield, is the leader of the Hua-an Seniors Group at the Chinese Australian Services Society. For 18 years, she has volunteered her time to encourage socially isolated seniors in western Sydney to participate in activities such as Tai Chi, singing and dancing. Ying also organises performances at community festivals such as Chinese New Year and NSW Seniors Week.

Barbara Sykes, 79 of Glenbrook, has been a tireless volunteer with Blue Mountains Food Services for 39 years. In the early years of this branch of Meals on Wheels, Barbara would often prepare the meals in her own kitchen, then make her deliveries before returning home to do the washing up. Barbara also volunteers for the local church and the Country Women’s Association.

Paul Turner, 69 of Baulkham Hills, is a volunteer advocate of retirees’ health and wellbeing. He has served on the executive of the Retired Associates Group of the Public Service Association for 12 years, during which time he organised guest speakers to address members on a range of issues including Macular Degeneration, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and men’s health. Paul lobbied the Federal Government to raise Centrelink pensions in line with 35% average weekly earnings. He has also volunteered for the Hills Historical Society and Rockwood Cemetery.

Carmelo Lino Vella OAM, 75 of Cherrybrook, has dedicated his life to helping less fortunate members of the Maltese community in Australia. He is the Chief Editor of The Maltese Herald, where, after 31 years’ employment, he now works as a volunteer. Always ready to assist others with advice or a donation, he helped establish the Melita Soccer Club and has also been a volunteer sports presenter for Sydney multicultural radio station 2E. Carmelo received The Order of Australia Medal in 1999 for his work with the Maltese community.

Frank Wilson, 71 of Mathoura, is currently the Unit Controller at the NSW State Emergency Service in Mathoura. After retiring in 2003, he stepped forward to be trained in general rescue, storm damage, land search and flood boat operations in order to help his community. He is often called out at short notice and has helped other communities throughout NSW including Blacktown after a severe hailstorm, Newcastle during the flood and storm disaster, and flooded communities on the North Coast of NSW in 2010. 

Edward Zammit, 63 of Petersham, is a tireless volunteer who has contributed his time and effort to some of Sydney’s most prestigious events. He worked as a driver for the Sydney Olympics, Sydney Paralympics and at the Lions Club Convention in Sydney, and as an usher at the 2012 New Year’s Eve event for the Lord Mayor. Edward organises his neighbourhood’s Christmas Party in Sydney’s inner west and helped his fellow Maltese migrants understand the 2011 Census, for which he was a collector.

Community Service Organisations

Caring Hearts Community Quilters in the Blue Mountains is an indefatigable group of 19 senior quilt makers. They have made quilts for bushfire victims in Victoria and flood victims in Queensland as well as local hospital palliative care and neo-natal wards, female refugees and Barnados’ children. The quilters also dedicate time to helping cancer patients, as there are a number of cancer survivors in their ranks.

Senior Citizens Centre Committee of Tamworth has helped to make community events possible in Tamworth for the past 54 years. The Committee provides insurance for volunteers and public liability insurance, helps organise events, day trips and holiday breaks for senior citizens and raises funds to help purchase office equipment and bingo prizes. It has recently raised enough funds to purchase a community bus which will enable it to continue helping the people of Tamworth.

Tamil Senior Citizens’ Benevolent Society (NSW) Inc helps people in the Tamil community when there has been a death in the family. The generosity of the Society’s 650 members has meant more than $600,000 has been given to help 137 families over the past 18 years. The Tamil Senior Citizens’ Benevolent Society has a volunteer Board of Trustees to oversee its operations.

Tripoli and Mena Association is a non-profit organisation focused on helping frail aged people in the Arabic-speaking community in Sydney’s south west. Services provided include centre-based day care, aged care packages, community partner programs, domestic care, light home and garden maintenance, transport and respite care, as well as social outings and leisure groups. The Tripoli and Mena Association is unique in that it has a dementia specific day care program for its community. 

Lifelong Learning

Gwen Dundon OAM, 81 of East Gosford, has long been a chronicler of the local history of the Central Coast. She is a former newspaper writer and photographer whose history articles led to her publishing six books between 1977 and 2010, themlargest being a comprehensive record of her district’s old shipbuilding industry. These books have encouraged others to take up the preservation of privately-held district photos and family information, and to publish. Her own photo collections were given to Gosford City Library archives.

Lesley East OAM, 71 of Jamberoo, is a retired school teacher who tutors some of our most vulnerable children. Lesley volunteers at Mission Australia’s Triple Care Farm for young people experiencing homelessness, substance abuse and mental health issues. She teaches the teens maths, literacy and living skills and visits service clubs and charities to talk about the centre’s achievements. One of Lesley’s proudest achievements was when her star pupil, a boy with autism, gained his Higher School Certificate and went on to study Japanese.

Noel Finch, 70 of Anna Bay, is the founder of the Mature Aged Computer Club at the Tomaree Neighbourhood Centre. Over the past 11 years, he has helped many senior citizens to catch up with technology and find their way around computers. An active member of the community, Noel is also involved in the Port Stephens Friendship Group which helps isolated seniors, and the Walking for Pleasure Group.

Pamela Hollebone, 70 of Cundletown, is committed to lifelong learning and encouraging her fellow seniors to embrace it. A foundation member of the Manning Valley University of the Third Age, she is responsible for designing the curriculum, producing the quarterly newsletter, organising regular social activities and presenting computer courses.

Judith Joyce, 69 of Telopea, is the volunteer Training Coordinator at Parramatta Computer Pals for Seniors. She teaches seniors a variety of skills from digital photography to Microsoft Word and Apple Mac for beginners. Judith is a member of the Dharug nation, is a Camellia and history enthusiast, as well as a prolific blogger and a prize-winning poet.

Kay Morrison, 65 of Stuarts Point, has made an outstanding contribution to education in her community. Kay started a local theatre group and participated as a performer, choreographer, producer, director and playwright. She has also organised and participated in public speaking and debating programs at her local primary school. Kay is a recipient of a Department of Education Regional Director’s Award for outstanding contribution to public education by a community member. 

Douglas Pyle, 88 of Bolwarra Heights, is a foundation member of Maitland Repertory Theatre which began in 1947 and is an actor, stage manager and set designer. During one term as President, he was responsible for obtaining the theatre group's public hall licence. He is also a foundation member of the Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles and regularly dresses in period costume for displays and parades. Douglas is a popular public speaker who is often asked to recount his time as an intelligence officer during World War II. He is also involved in his local library’s "Living Book" program.

Dr Michael Tan, 66 of Cherrybrook, has been a dedicated lifelong learner culminating in a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of NSW. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia who shares his knowledge of investments and superannuation with community associations after gaining Certified Financial Planning qualifications. Michael has lectured at the School of Business at the University of NSW. He recently joined the BT Financial Group in Sydney which is part of the Westpac Banking Corporation.

Lifelong Learning - Organisations

ComputerPals for Seniors Newcastle is where seniors master technology. Volunteer seniors provide training for fellow seniors in computer skills and other related digital technology. ComputerPals has a number of interest groups including Digital Photography, Creative Writing and Genealogy. Over the past 11 years, more than 2,000 seniors have participated in ComputerPals’ programs, with many advanced learners becoming tutors in order to pass on their knowledge to new members.

ComputerPals for Seniors Parramatta Inc was established in 2007 and is run entirely by volunteers. Its courses reflect the interests of retirees ranging from computer classes for beginners, to shopping online, Skype and Facebook, digital photography, travel blogging and online genealogy. ComputerPals has attracted more than 600 members and often provides training opportunities to other non-profit groups in the Parramatta area.

Environment, Science and Agriculture

Suzanne Medway, 61 of Banksia, is a volunteer with the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia. In her 23 years with the Society, and as President since 2009, Suzanne has modernised its administration structure and expanded its educational campaigns. She has helped to introduce a University Grants Scheme to support applied scientific research with a conservation focus. Suzanne is the Editor of the society’s quarterly magazine ‘Australian Wildlife’. She has also edited three books for the society as well as the centenary edition of its history. 

George Quinell, 80 of Lithgow, has helped the non-profit Lithgow Community Native Plant Nursery to grow into a thriving local business. Since opening in 1993 with just 500 plants, the nursery is now an established business producing more than 50,000 native plants which are used to green degraded areas of the local environment. George was a founding member, and is now President, of the nursery committee which is responsible for the nursery’s expansion and upkeep. He is also an active member of the Lithgow City Council Environmental Committee and a is a foundation member of the award winning Lithgow Tidy Town Committee.

Health and Wellbeing

Lois Allanson, 71 of Merewether, is a singer and pianist who is a volunteer with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW. She is dedicated to bringing music into the lives of people with dementia and their carers, families and friends. Lois trains music groups which entertain residents at aged care facilities and assists people with dementia who live in their own homes.

Ann Cusack, 67 of Bossley Park, is a former marathon runner who is now a fitness instructor for people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. She provides active over- 50s programs, boot camps for seniors, aqua aerobics, step classes and advice on nutrition.

John “Sparrow” Dowse, 77 of Lindfield, is a former Wallaby fly-half with four international caps for Australia. Seven years ago, he became the oldest person to qualify as a Personal Trainer with Fitness NSW. He is a dedicated instructor of safe, effective and fun circuit classes for over 55s with the Senior Wellness Program at the University of Sydney. He was recognised by his profession when he was chosen to give the opening address to more than 1,000 attendees at a fitness industry convention in 2009.

Patricia Jessop, 67 of Charlestown, is a former physiotherapist who now teaches Tai Chi to seniors. Residents at six nursing homes in Newcastle take classes taught either by Patricia or the volunteer teams she has handpicked, trained and continues to supervise. The gentle Tai Chi exercises Patricia has especially modified for seniors are producing encouraging results among her older students.

John Montagner, 66 of Wollongong, is a very active retired Associate Professor and Honorary Principal Fellow of the University of Wollongong’s Faculty of Engineering. He has been the President of the University’s social club for 12 years and has been instrumental in encouraging and supporting social club members, including people with a disability, to become actively involved in activities. These include the Saturday morning walking group. John also organises the University’s annual City to Surf team. 

Rosemary Pierse, 65 of Wyoming, developed her own exercise program for people with osteoporosis and arthritis after being diagnosed with osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. She found there was nothing suitable on the market, so she wrote, produced and filmed a demonstration DVD of her light weight-bearing exercises. Rosemary has received many testimonials from users of her program attesting to the improvements her exercises have made to their balance and strength.

Beverley Sandiford, 62 of Mirrabooka, is a line-dancing instructor for the Coastal Bootscooters. She has been teaching this fun and healthy exercise for the past 20 years to students ranging in age from 50 to 83. Beverley also trains two demonstration teams which perform at nursing homes, community festivals and day care centre’s in the Lake Macquarie area.

Trevor J Simpson OAM, 82 of Wentworthville, is a volunteer 6th Dan black belt Ju-Jitsu instructor. In 1965, Trevor began offering Ju-Jitsu classes for children which later found a permanent home at Wentworthville Leagues Club, where he serves on the Board. Trevor was awarded The Order of Australia Medal in 2004 and named an Unsung Hero in 2009.

Tuyet Hong Thi Tu, 71 of Fairfield, runs a song and dance group within the Vietnamese Seniors Association in Marrickville. Over the past 18 years, Tuyet Hong Thi has encouraged people in her community to overcome their shyness and perform for Association events and community festivals. She also contributes to the health and well-being of others by regularly visiting nursing homes and hospitals.

Health and Wellbeing - Organisations

The Silver Belles mature tap dancing group is made up of people aged from 36 to 79 years. It stages free concerts in tap, soft shoe and jazz dancing at nursing homes and retirement villages in the Illawarra and for charities. The Silver Belles have won eisteddfods and also perform at major concerts in their region.

Intergenerational Understanding

Margaret Carroll, 62 of Molong, has written three books in the last decade on the inspiring lives of ordinary rural Australians aged 19 to 95. A former school teacher, she mentors teenagers at Molong Central School. Margaret is also a council housing officer in Orange, where she helped establish the first family-style Abbeyfield House for older people in NSW. She initiated ORANGESEARCH healthy cities project and helped to set up the Central West Rural Financial Counselling Service for farmers. Margaret was founding coordinator of the NSW Rural Women's Network, bringing generations together at Women of the Land Gatherings, and has involved her neighbours in the Upper Mandagery Landcare Group. 

Don Gale, 72 of Warriewood, is a dedicated volunteer soccer referee and groundsman. Over the past 40 years, he has helped to make his football club one of the most popular in Australia for both males and females from the age of six to 76. Don has received a number of awards including the prestigious Football NSW State Award for consistent and valuable service to football, while he’s a life member of the Manly Warringah Football Association.

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