Westlakes residents honoured at 2020 Lake Mac Awards presentation at Swansea on Feburary 8

WESTLAKES residents have featured prominently in the 2020 Lake Mac Awards.

Artist Tracy Thomas, of Fishing Point, took out the Lake Mac Artist and Creator Award following ongoing success in Australia and overseas.

The contemporary abstract and impressionist artist is a former winner of the International Emerging Artist Award and her work has featured on the side of a building in Dubai.

Ms Thomas said she was honoured to receive this latest accolade.

"I hope this award brings more awareness to arts in the community," she said.

"I want to inspire other people, and especially young mums, because we really can achieve great things."

Rhonda Finlay, of Rathmines, who has dedicated many hours to a range of initiatives assisting Aboriginal welfare and education, as well as Wangi Lions Club, received the 2020 Ambassador Award.

Mayor Kay Fraser, who presented the award, noted the years of effort Ms Finlay had put into Lake Macquarie's community.

"What an incredible woman, and a very fitting ambassador for our city," Cr Fraser said.

Nico Marcar, of Carey Bay, received the Environmental Leader Award.

Mr Marcar has championed environmental and community initiatives in western Lake Macquarie for many years.

Helene Ruma, of Wangi Wangi, and Saretta Fielding, of Toronto, were named joint winners of the Arts Leader Award.

The Community Group of the Year award went to the Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance whose volunteers, in the past financial year alone, contributed more than 9300 hours of work worth almost $300,000.

Tom Webster, of Booragul, received the All Abilities Sports Star Award for his outstanding results in athletics at state and international level.

Flying ace Matt Hall, of Marks Point, was named Lake Macquarie's Sports Star of the Year for his outstanding performance on the world stage.

The veteran pilot took out the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in September.

"My passion for aviation started here in Lake Macquarie, and now, all these years later, this award has made it all worthwhile to represent the city doing something I'm still passionate about," Hall said.

Cr Fraser said the awards highlighted the achievements, dedication and tireless work of people in the local community.

"The Lake Mac Awards demonstrate the breadth and depth of talent and passion in our city," Cr Fraser said.

"I want to congratulate not only this year's winners, but all finalists and nominees - and everyone else in our community who works behind the scenes to make it a better place."

This year's awards were expanded to include 11 categories, including two new awards recognising achievements in arts and creative production.

The awards were presented at Swansea RSL Club on Saturday night.

Complete list of winners

Ambassador Award

Rhonda Finlay

A tireless volunteer, Rhonda has been involved in a host of groups, activities and initiatives designed to make the community a better place and help those in it. Rhonda has been particularly active in the field of Aboriginal welfare and education, and has been involved for more than 15 years in Wangi Lions Club.

Sports Star Award

Matt Hall

A former RAAF fighter pilot, Matt won his maiden Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2019. He is the only Australian to have competed in the championship, participating in eight seasons of racing and amassing 30 podium finishes. Matt's team - Matt Hall Racing - is based in Lake Macquarie, helping raise the profile of the city and the sport for thousands of fans worldwide.

Young Citizen of the Year Award

Amelia Coleman

From a young age, Amelia has pursued a career in paediatrics, leading to numerous paid and unpaid positions supporting children with and without disability. As a Cerebral Palsy Alliance volunteer, Amelia generously offers her skills as an occupational therapy student to better the lives of children and adults living with disability. She has gone above and beyond at various children's camps to support participants and their families.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Eduardo Leon (Cerebral Palsy Alliance)

Eduardo, aka Eddie, is a passionate volunteer for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance who has worked for many years with children with cerebral palsy. The speech pathologist has used his professional skills to help implement multiple programs aimed at making children's lives happier, helping them communicate and developing social and problem-solving skills.

Community Group of the Year

Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance

The Alliance provides coordination, governance, resourcing, capacity-building, marketing and communication for and on behalf of the Sustainable Neighbourhood groups across Lake Macquarie City. It fosters sustainable neighbourhoods and a healthy local environment, driven by volunteers who in the past financial year alone contributed more than 9300 hours of work worth almost $300,000.

Artist and Creator Award

Tracy Thomas

Tracy's art hangs in all corners of the globe, with its contemporary textures, layering and finishes appealing to the imagination. As a recipient of the International Emerging Artist Award in Dubai, her art has been reproduced on the side of an 11-storey building in Dubai's shopping precinct. Tracy's aim is for her art to lift and inspire and to create calm, peace and interest within those who view it.

Arts Leader Award (joint winners)

Helene Ruma

Via her Ruma Art Gallery and Supplies, Helene provides art supplies for western Lake Macquarie artists, and art classes for children and adults. Students have excelled under her expert tutelage, with people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds welcomed. As well as selling her art, Helene has regularly donated works for schools and community fundraisers.

Saretta Fielding

Saretta, an Aboriginal artist from the Wonaruah Nation, produces critically acclaimed art reflecting the style of traditional sand engravings found throughout Wonaruah country and the Hunter Region. Saretta has produced a vast body of work for private and corporate customers, and was a pioneering board member of Yarnteen, which aims to build Aboriginal involvement in business.

Environmental Leader Award

Nico Marcar, fourth from left, representing TASNG at the opening of the Brighton Avenue footpath in 2017. Picture: David Stewart

Nico Marcar, fourth from left, representing TASNG at the opening of the Brighton Avenue footpath in 2017. Picture: David Stewart

Nico Marcar

Nico has championed environmental and community initiatives in western Lake Macquarie for many years, serving as Chairperson of the Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group (TASNG) for the past seven. He has helped promote the phase-out of single-use plastics in Toronto's CBD and has established partnerships with other local community groups.

Sports Leader Award

David Eland

David is Northern NSW Football CEO, an organisation based at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility at Speers Point and boasting almost 66,500 registered players. David's tireless work for Northern NSW Football has boosted the facility's ongoing success and growth, helped attract funding and built its positive profile in the local community.

All Abilities Sports Star

Thomas Webster

St Paul's Catholic College student Thomas Webster has excelled at State and international level in athletics, taking out many coveted titles over more than a decade of competition. He is a valued member of his school community, respected by staff and student alike.

Rising Sports Star Award (joint winners)

Ashlyn Blackstock

Ashlyn's athletics achievements peaked in 2019, with gold medals and records across various events at regional, State and national level. A member of the Athletics NSW Target Talent Program, Ashlyn's career highlights have included Under-16s women's discus gold at the Athletics Australia Track and Field Championships, and Under-16s women's shotput gold at the Combined High Schools Championships.

Riley Pockett

Riley's skill on the soccer field was demonstrated last year when he was selected to play in the Bill Turner Cup Under-15s competition, squaring off against opponents three years his senior. His maturity and humility on the field also bely his young age, and helped earn his Westlakes Wildcats Under-12s team the 2019 Blackshaw Award for Sportsmanship, Fair Play and Team Spirit.

International Children's Games Fair Play Award

Rilee Perry

Rilee was an outstanding member of Team Lake Macquarie 2019 and competed in swimming events. As a senior team member, she provided encouragement to every other athlete on the tour and always displayed respect for coaching and management staff. Her interaction and support of athletes from other nations demonstrated an impressive sense of fair play.

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