Byron Community Centre president Helen Hamilton and general manager Louise O'Connell. They were among those who gathered at Bangalow Bowling Club on Thursday, December 3, 2020 to tune into the announcement of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards winners. Picture: Liana Boss
Byron Community Centre president Helen Hamilton and general manager Louise O'Connell. They were among those who gathered at Bangalow Bowling Club on Thursday, December 3, 2020 to tune into the announcement of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards winners. Picture: Liana Boss

Community legends recognised after tough year for community

SOME of the people the Byron Bay Community Association help the most are among the region’s most vulnerable.
So it’s no surprise the organisation has been a particularly essential pillar of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Byron Bay Community Association Helen Hamilton was a finalist in the 2020 Volunteer of the Year Awards and was among a group of others taking part in the celebrations, held across the via state via video call, on Thursday.

Mr Hamilton was celebrated among other Byron Shire residents earlier this year when she was named the Byron Shire Citizen of the Year in January.

She was then among a group of Northern Rivers residents named as state finalists in September.

“I think it is amazing the number of people who volunteer in NSW and kept volunteering through this difficult year that we’ve had,” Ms Hamilton said.

“We work with some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.”

A group of volunteers gathered at Bangalow Bowling Club on Thursday, December 3 to join a video call for the announcement of the 2020 Volunteer of the Year Awards. Picture: Liana Boss
A group of volunteers gathered at Bangalow Bowling Club on Thursday, December 3 to join a video call for the announcement of the 2020 Volunteer of the Year Awards. Picture: Liana Boss

She said the efforts of volunteers and the financial support of donors had meant they could continue supporting the community throughout the pandemic.

She welcomed the way the Centre For Volunteering celebrated those who have been giving back so much to their communities.

Byron Community Centre general manager Louise O’Connell said Ms Hamilton “really embodies what it means to be a volunteer”.

“The Byron Community Centre operates only because of (its) over 200 volunteers,” Ms O’Connell said.

“She really gives so much to the community.”

Ms O’Connell said the organisation had delivered 65,000 meals to people in need across 500 households during the pandemic.

During the address to the finalists in the video call event on Thursday, Paula Duncan AM told the groups: “you are the heart and soul of our country”.