Three people standing in front of the Australian flag.

Helen Mears receives her Citizen of the Year award from Coffs Harbour Mayor Paul Amos and General Manager Natalia Cowley.

Australia Day honours for our volunteers

Jan 26, 2023
This article was published 1 year ago.

Australia Day honours for 2023 have recognised the hard work, dedication and tenacity of Mid North Coast Local Health District volunteers.

Coffs Harbour Pink Ladies President Helen Mears has been honoured for her lengthy service to Coffs Harbour hospital with a Medal of the Order of Australia.

The national honour recognises more than 40 years’ service to the United Hospital Auxiliaries of NSW – the entire four-plus decades as a member of the Coffs Harbour Pink Ladies, including more than 30 years as branch president.

Helen was also recognised with a Coffs Harbour Australia Day Award – Citizen of the Year.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Helen’s service has been recognised in her community and by her country, and we extend our congratulations to every volunteer who helps support our health sites and our patients,” said the LHD’s Corporate Relations Manager Sharon Fuller.

Another familiar face at Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Tanya Johnson, was also honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the community through charitable organisations.

A breast cancer survivor, Ms Johnson founded the Pink Silks Trust which has raised more than $1 million in 16 years for women’s healthcare at Coffs Harbour, much of it directed towards medical equipment at Coffs Harbour Health Campus.

Members of the Bellingen branch of the United Hospital Auxiliaries of NSW were also honoured with Bellingen Shire Council’s Home Grown Heroes Award.

The UHA volunteers were nominated for the huge amount of work they do to fundraise for Bellinger River District Hospital. Most of the funds are raised through the volunteer-run Mary’s Teahouse, a much-loved café at the hospital.

The UHA donated more than $75,000 in much-needed hospital equipment last financial year.

It’s impressive support of the hospital, staff, patients and visitors through Mary’s Tea House depends largely on volunteers joining the UHA branch.

Anyone wanting to help should email Waveney at, or text 0415 388 590. You may even make the next training day scheduled for 8 February at the café.

Also recognised for her selfless support of Bellinger River District Hospital and the volunteers who support it was UHA branch president Deb Anderson.

Ms Anderson, who has led the branch for the past eight years, received a highly commended in the Bellingen Shire Council’s Hidden Gem Award 2023.

Under her diligent leadership, the UHA donated $100,000 worth of medical equipment in the past couple of years, including a $60,000 operating theatre bed and two vital signs monitors costing $9000.

a large group of women and one man holding a certificate in front of an Australian Aboriginal flag.

Irene Chesterman, Violet Preston, Libby Knight, Margot Pleasant and Waveney Ascough accepting the Home Grown Hero award from Mayor Steve Allan and Cr Jo Brotherton.

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