Parramatta Australia Day Local Award winners
Young Citizen of the Year - Alexander Roberts
North Rocks resident Alexander Roberts first started collecting cans when he was six.
Twelve years later and he’s still the person to go to if you have a pile of empty soft drinks.
The 18-year-old has been named Parramatta’s Young Citizen of the Year for his recycling business which transformed trash into cash for those who need help.
Mr Roberts, who recently completed year 12 at The King’s School, said he was in primary school when he first started collecting cans with his elderly neighbour.
When his neighbour died, he kept his legacy alive by involving his school in the business and placing recyling bins around the playground.
‘‘We would collect the cans we had, take them to the Parramatta scrap metal dealers, refund the cans and pass the money on.’’
At high school, he continued collecting but redesigned the program around the school’s house system.
The money raised was donated to the SOS Orphange in Vietnam and has also been used to sponsor five children through World Vision.
The program has raised thousands of dollars over more than a decade and employees at local organisations, including Auburn Hospital, have added to the piles of cans.
Mr Roberts has also been awarded the Pride of Australia Medal and the NSW Government Community Service Award.
He said he had always been a committed environmentalist but was surprised to be named Parramatta’s Young Citizen of the Year at the Australia Day ceremony on Sunday.
‘‘Ever since I was a young kid I’ve had an orientation to help with the environment.’’
He plans to follow this passion and this year study a bachelor of environment at Macquarie University.
Senior Citizen of the Year - Donald Hones
Granville Boys High School support teacher Donald Hones has worked tirelessly to support ‘‘at risk’’ young men. He’s a regular sight at the Granville Youth and Community Recreation Centre and also assists young men who are incarcerated in juvenile detention centres.
Volunteer of the Year – Wendy Purkis
Seventy-five-year-old Wendy Purkis has been an active volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House in Westmead for more than three decades. She volunteers five nights every six weeks to love after the house and is it’s longest serving volunteer.
Sportsperson of the Year – Michael Beauchamp
The Western Sydney Wanderer’s inaugural captain Michael Beauchamp made his Socceroos debut against Bahrain in 2006. He was selected as part of Australia’s FIFA World Cup 2006 squad and subsequently earned multiple football contract overseas. He was announced as a Wanderers’ foundation player in 2012 and captained the side to the Premiership in their debut season.
Community Project of the Year – Friends of Duck River Bushcare Group
Friends of Duck River, a dedicated bush care group, has healped regenerate the Duck River Bushland for 20 years. The group has worked to protect the remnant trees in the reserve as well as the large patches of native grasses which provide a home to local wildlife, including a bearded dragon, a group of pardalotes and the threatened Cumberland Plain Snail.
Holroyd Australia Day Local Award winners
Citizen of the Year: Julie Overton
Julie Overton has been actively involved in Greystanes Scout Group as a leader and has been instrumentation in raising money for McHappy Day, Father Chris O’Brien’s food collection and overseas relief funds. A Holroyd Council spokeswoman said Jyulie has inspired others to follow in her footsteps and works tirelessly to provide for young people in Holroyd.
Faces of Holroyd, Community Services: John Makuer
Faces of Holroyd, Education - Megan Sault
Faces of Holroyd, Environment - Nathan Manning
Faces of Holroyd, Human Rights - Heba Niem
Faces of Holroyd, Personal Achievement - Suryansha Sharma
Faces of Holroyd, Visual Arts - Dylan Tinker
■ Faces of Holroyd, Sports - Lachlan Hallab