2023 Central Coast Australia day

award winners announced

Ten locals have received Australia Day honours, including Ryan Wilson (Founder of Free Trade Day) who has been named ‘Citizen of the Year’ in the 2023 Australia Day Awards on the Central Coast.

Central Coast Council Australia Day Award winners.

27 January 2023


COUNCIL Director of Community and Recreation, Melanie Smith said the annual awards are a way for the Central Coast Council to celebrate those who enrich our community.


“The recipient of the Citizen of the Year for 2023, Ryan Wilson is certainly worthy of this award,” said Ms Smith.


“Embodying the true meaning of community spirit and inspiring others across the Coast to follow suit Ryan formed the Free Trade Day initiative after attending a gentlemen’s home in 2017.


“As a tradesman, Ryan attended a typical household call out. As he attended the gentleman’s home to conduct his services, it came to Ryan’s attention the gentleman had been without hot water for some time due to a broken system that he could not afford to fix.


“Moved by the circumstances of the gentleman Ryan generously donated and installed a hot water system.


“Sparking thought, Ryan wondered how many people were in the community without the means to access simple trade work.


“Ryan kickstarted the ‘Free Trade Day’ for locals in need by gathering and inspiring hundreds of trade businesses to take part in the initiative.


“Today the ‘Free Trade Day’ conducts hundreds of jobs across the Coast each year with over 300 volunteers and more and more businesses coming on board every day.”


Council Administrator, Rik Hart said Australia Day Awards honour the work of individuals who have made a significant contribution to our local community.


“All recipients share common characteristics in serving the community, which include selflessness, commitment, and generosity,” said Mr Hart.


“Thank you to all award nominees for supporting the Central Coast community. Each individual should be proud of their efforts, and we are honoured to have this chance to recognise the work they do,” said Mr Hart.


“I would also like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, work and play. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging and recognise their continued connection to these lands and waterways. We acknowledge our shared responsibility to care for and protect our place and people.”


A brief biography of each of the Australia Day 2023 award winners and highly commended for the Central Coast is included below:


Citizen of the Year (Winner) - Ryan Wilson

Ryan started the ‘Free Trade Day’ initiative after attending a gentlemen’s home in 2017. During this call out it came to Ryan’s attention that this gentleman had gone without hot water for some time due to a broken system that he could not afford to fix. Ryan donated and installed a hot water system, and this planted a seed for Ryan, wondering how many other people in the community needed trade work done but didn’t have the means. Ryan got to work gathering and inspiring hundreds of trade businesses to be a part of a ‘free trade day’ for locals in need with hundreds of jobs being completed each trade day. This initiative is growing with over 300 volunteers and more and more businesses coming on board.


Senior Citizen of the Year (Winner) - Warren Lupica

Warren has been an active Surf Lifesaver on the Central Coast since 1957, seeing seven decades of service. Warren is an active member and involved with a number of community service programs such as, Running Silver Salties Group at Shelley Beach, Running Tai Chi Classes, plus many more club activities. He also organises free First aid, CPR and Defibrillator courses for the local Probus club and Lions Clubs.


Senior Citizen of the Year (Highly Commended) - Gregory Douglas Mawson

Greg has been a pioneer in the many fields he has volunteered in, he has had his hands full with holding many positions at Woy Woy and Central Coast Division of Junior Rugby League, President of Gosford City Sports Council, President of Gosford RSL Subbranch, and President of the Central Coast RSL District Council.

Greg has excelled in every organisation he has belonged to, making positive changes and implementing new strategies.


Young Person of the Year (Winner) - Brittani Presland

Brittani is a Financial Analyst studying a Master of Business Administration and Master of Finance at Newcastle University and serves on a range of community-based boards and committees, contributing sound financial and accounting knowledge to the table. Brittani is a member of the Wyong Neighbourhood board, she is Secretary on the Scouts NSW public fund committee, an assistant treasurer to Cooks Hill lifesaving, on the Newcastle City Council Youth Committee, and lastly on the Gosford Preschool board. Brittani is a very ambitious and driven individual and serves her community well in these roles.


Young Person of the Year (Special Achievement) - Archer Pool

Archer is only five years old but has a big heart full of kindness and loves helping his friends, community, and his family. Since Archer was two, he helped his mother clean rubbish from parks, and bake cookies for garbage truck drivers, postmen, teachers, and the front-line heroes. During the floods, Archer jumped into action, with his family to help people in the neighbourhood by supplying sandbags to protect their properties.


Community Group (Winner) - Central Coast Kids in Need

Central Coast Kids in Need is a small volunteer group that has been able to assist families over the last 29 years with accommodation costs to stay with their children who are undergoing specialised treatments in Sydney and Newcastle hospitals. They also assist with high-cost prescription items, specialised formulas, quality-of-life equipment, and travel expenses. Over the years Central Coast Kids in Need has outlaid $4.13 million in assisting over 3,573 families.


Community Life (Winner) - Peter Liston

Captain Peter Liston is the Founder and CEO of the Veteran Community Business Chamber. After a decade of military service - which later resulted in him being medically discharged from the Army – Pete reflected upon how hard it is for military spouses to maintain a career or find meaningful work while their partner is still serving. As a result, Peter now volunteers his spare time to develop the Chamber, while also serving as the conduit between members and government, as well as the Returned and Services League of Australia.


Volunteer of the Year (Joint Winner) - Michael Sharpe

Michael is an active member of the Central Coast community, a dedicated volunteer, and a proven leader. Throughout his life, Michael has supported several community organisations including schools, fire brigades, many charity organisations and building a longstanding partnership with the Gosford Regional Gallery. Michael has been involved with over 18 services and a board member of many groups that support the community; just to name a few - Board Member Freemasons on the Central Coast Charity, Committee Member Central Coast Australian Olympic Team Fund, Board Member Central Coast Local Health District, Board Member at Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast and many more great services.


Volunteer of the Year (Joint Winner) - Robert ‘Bob’ Ihlein

Bob is a person who gives his all to any organisation or activity he is involved in. He is a Vietnam veteran and was part of the RAE construction group during his military service in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. Over time he has held senior volunteer positions with the RSL and the Men's Shed movement. Bob has been a member of The Entrance Men's Shed since before its official opening in 2009, holding the position of president. He also volunteers his spare time coordinating Overwatch, a suicide watch program for current and former defence force personnel.


Council Australia Day Winners 2023Volunteer of the Year (Highly Commended) - Julie Redfern

Julie is a strong female leader at Terrigal. She is an inspiring mum working full time as a Professor of Public Health and has been a Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) Director of Member Services for three years, patrolling and managing the social media channels. She is an inclusive leader and has recently won the 2022 NSW Woman of Excellence. Her volunteerism spans all SLS activities and involves endless hours every week all year

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