Australia Day 2020: Nelson Bay environmental advocate Alicia Cameron 2019 Port Stephens Citizen of the Year

2019 Port Stephens Annual Award winners, from top left, Lorraine Nicol, Rhys Fabris, Alicia Cameron, Steve Jones, Kenyon Windeyer, Dion Cooper, Tasmyn Fellows, 17, and Nigel Waters.
2019 Port Stephens Annual Award winners, from top left, Lorraine Nicol, Rhys Fabris, Alicia Cameron, Steve Jones, Kenyon Windeyer, Dion Cooper, Tasmyn Fellows, 17, and Nigel Waters.

An "honour" and a "shock" is how environmental advocate Alicia Cameron described being named the Port Stephens Citizen of the Year for 2019.

The founder of Plastic Free Port Stephens, who has called Nelson Bay home for more than a decade, said she was not expecting to take out the honour, which was announced at the Australia Day civic ceremony in Raymond Terrace on Sunday morning.

"It's fantastic," Mrs Cameron said. "I think it acknowledges what's important at the moment, which is our environment and our impact on it."

Mrs Cameron was nominated in the awards for advocating and raising community awareness on environmental sustainability.

Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to Tasmyn Fellows, 17. Miss Fellows, one of five young people in the running for awards this year, was acknowledged for her coaching and mentoring work with Raymond Terrace Junior Rugby League Club.

A record number of Port Stephens individuals and groups, 23 in total, were nominated for 2019 awards.

Sportsperson of the Year was won by Nelson Bay Junior Rugby Union all-rounder Dion Cooper.

Port Stephens artist Rhys Fabris, who is responsible for painting large murals on buildings around the Tomaree Peninsula to brighten up town centres, won the Cultural Endeavour Award.

Acknowledged for his services to a number of Port Stephens environmental groups, Nigel Waters won the inaugural Environment Award.

Mr Waters also accepted a Port Stephens Medal on behalf of the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Reserves and Landcare Committee.

Port Stephens Medals were also won by long-time Seaham Rural Fire Brigade volunteer Donald "Steve" Jones and Kenyon Windeyer from Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network.

For her commitment and service to several volunteer groups in Port Stephens, function coordination and fundraising, Corlette's Lorraine Nicol was inducted as a Freeman of Port Stephens.

Mrs Nicol has organised countless functions and events on behalf of many Port Stephens groups including Tomaree Breast Cancer Support Group and Nelson Bay VIEW to fund-raise thousands of dollars for charity.

When asked how she felt to be named a Freeman of Port Stephens, Mrs Nicol said it was "overwhelming".

"I feel very proud," she said. "And I know that I wouldn't be here if the people I have worked with and the people I have asked to support me didn't come forward.

"I've had such wonderful results when I've put on a function and the money I've raised has always been a bit of a shock to everyone but I think it's [the success] because I believe in what I do."

Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer, who announced the award winners, said he was proud to present Mrs Nicol the prestigious title of Freeman of Port Stephens.

"It's not every year a Freeman of Port Stephens is given but when there are those in our community who have given year after year it is an extremely proud moment when we can give a Freeman of Port Stephens Award," he said.

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