Earlier this year, Paul was working in his newsagency when alerted by his five-year-old daughter to a fire in a house across the street. Paul raced to the scene and noticed an elderly woman inside. He had to enter the house three times due to the severity of the blaze before reaching the woman and dragging her to safety.
Just over two years ago, Samantha was callously attacked and bashed over the head several times with a brick. Her skull had been shattered, her nose broken and the hand she used to protect herself crushed. Doctors said she would never work again. But earlier this year, after a long fight to rehabilitate herself, Samantha bravely returned to active duty.
Born legally blind, Ben’s limited sight did not stop him from playing rugby league when at school. As an 11-year-old, he was introduced to blind cricket. He has been able to overcome his adversity by playing blind cricket for Australia but also saved a young boy’s life when that boy was being attacked, and has gone on to complete a diploma in child care.
Jeannie has been a vocal advocate for ocean conservation for more than 40 years. She set up the group Ocean and Coastal Care Initiatives to raise awareness of local marine and coastal issues and also formed the Whale Dreamers Festival which attracts 5000 people to share in conservation messages.
Barry has worked voluntarily for Cabra Vale Diggers Club for the last 11 years. As the club’s welfare officer, Barry visits hospitals and nursing homes every day to distribute care packages which he puts together. He also attends up to three funerals a day to offer support and comfort. Barry also helps by driving people to medical appointments.
Carlos is a very active member of his community. He fought hard to save the Malabar Police Station which had been earmarked for closure. He also helped the community rebuild a local kids playground which had been burnt to the ground by vandals and organised a native plant day to bring the community together.
Ross is head maths teacher at Sarah Redfern High School in Minto. During lunch times each week, he hosts 30 children in a game show-style maths quiz. Each morning he coaches students in the Maths Breakfast Club. He was also founder of the Aboriginal Numeracy Competition and also organises the Endicott Cup, a four-term academic competition for Year 5 and Year 6 students.
Joan has been the Florence Nightingale of the country town of Scone, recently completing 50 years as a nurse, much of it in palliative care. She takes patients to doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy sessions and nurses the terminally ill both in hospital and at home, showing them great dignity, compassion and kindness.
Bruce works in Brewarrina and teaches indigenous children about coping with racism, avoiding prison and alcohol and encouraging the youth of far west NSW to complete their education. To ease indigenous kids into city life, Bruce often brings groups of children to Sydney for safe excursions. He is the community youth worker and runs the local youth centre.
At 2 years of age, Vanessa contracted meningococcal disease. She lost both legs and most of her fingers. At 5, she received a liver transplant. Despite her adversity, Vanessa is an incredibly positive, confident and gregarious girl. She is still a regular visitor to Westmead Childrens Hospital and is an inspiration to children, nurses and doctors throughout the Hospital. She speaks to other families affected by meningococcal and makes beautiful beaded jewellery.