Volunteer Recognition Awards

2024 Volunteer Recognition Award Ceremony

Every year a committed and largely unseen army of volunteers give their time and skills to enhance and uplift the life of the community within the City of Ryde.

The annual Volunteer Recognition Awards aim to acknowledge the contribution made by these unsung heroes. 

2024 Volunteer Recognition Award Winners

The 2024 Volunteer Recognition awards were held on Thursday 16 May and we are excited to announce our winners below.

Individual Volunteer of the Year | Simon Paul McNamara

Simon has an exceptional volunteer CV, especially with the various roles in the NSW State Emergency Service (SES). From Team Leader to his current role as Rescue Officer, this year Simon will celebrate his 30th anniversary at the NSW SES Ryde unit. Simon has won 11 SES awards which includes the NSW Premier's Bushfire Emergency Citation for Contribution and Service to Bushfires from 2019 to 2021 and NSW SES Commissioner's Commendation for Service in 2016. The Plumber is on call 24/7, as he also assists NSW Police, Fire Rescue NSW, Rural Fire service and other emergency teams in Sydney and regional NSW. 

The Ryde resident trains and assesses up to 60 SES volunteers each year and sometimes during natural disasters, Simon is away from his family and business for nearly a week. However, Simon is dedicated to keeping Ryde safe during emergencies so the community can sleep well at night. He educates inspiring young minds with visits from local Scout and Cubs groups. For 29 years, he has volunteered at the Granny Smith Festival and he has been a Marshall for the past 10 years. On Clean Up Australia Day in 2014 and 2016, Simon helped collect 500kg of rubbish from the Parramatta River.

Young Volunteer of the Year | Nune Hovivian

Nune often volunteers up to seven hours each week to the 1st Denistone East (Ararat) Scout Group, which ranges from four to 19-year-old Armenians in the community. The coed group is part of Homenetmen, which is a pan-Armenian diaspora devoted to sport and scouts. Homenentmen has 111 chapters in 25 countries and all of the participants in the Denistone East Group speak Armenian. Last year, there were only four scouts and thanks to Nune’s programs the number has increased to 18. The Australian Catholic University (ACU) History student introduced fun outings like Timezone, Ten-pin Bowling, Laser Tag and Trampoline World. Some of the activities were fully paid by the Armenian community or the scout paid 50%. 

During COVID, the 24-year-old transitioned the Scout Group to online activities and she assisted in creating other Scout programs. When new children join the group, many kids struggle with self-confidence and creating friendships. Nune has provided a great environment for scout-aged children to find and establish friendships and give them a sense of belonging. Although Nune doesn’t have a licence or car, she catches public transport and never misses an activity or meeting. She currently works in retail at Top Ryde Shopping Centre.

Volunteer Group of the Year | Presbyterian Aged Care Social Support Group Volunteers

Over 20 years, a group of about 12 volunteers has dedicated about 18 hours a week each organising social and cultural groups like the Presbyterian Aged Care Chinese South African and Armenian groups. To prevent seniors from becoming isolated and lonely, volunteers organise morning teas, lunches, social outings, digital seminars, craft sessions and exercise classes. The Strength and Balance classes help seniors with weight management, prevent falls and increase upper body strength.

The digital classes provide the group with confidence in an online world, including educating them about scams and how to use the most popular apps for seniors. The volunteers assist seniors who have mobility and technical issues, plus serve food and clean up afterward. The volunteers have a genuine interest in the well-being of seniors, as they get to know them on a personal level and are there to listen. The Support Group reunites seniors who have lost contact over many years, or it allows them to make new friends and enjoy cultural traditions. Some of the volunteers drive a fair distance, a few have English as a second language, and some have their own health issues.

We would like to thank all of the 2024 Nominees for their exceptional contributions within the Ryde Community.

If you know of other unsung heroes within the Ryde community that deserve to be recognised please remember to nominate for the 2025 awards next year.

Photo Gallery

2024 Volunteer Recognition Awards

2024 Volunteer of the Year Nominees

Young Volunteer of the Year Nominees


Armaan has an impressive volunteer CV as he participated in The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal for five years and he is part of the Neighbourhood Watch Ryde District team. Armaan has volunteered at City of Ryde community events for three years and he also dedicates his time with the Lane Cove National Park Bush Care Group. For over four years, the 13-year-old has been part of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby and as Youth Councillor with the City of Ryde. Armaan helped draft and pass a motion for the Australian Climate Dividend. The City of Ryde was the first ever Youth Council in Australia to endorse this environmental policy. The Chatswood High student helped organise Multicultural Week and Armaan is part of the Student Representative Council.

Krishna is doing his HSC this year, but he still volunteers his time with the Eastwood Chinese Senior Citizens Club on weekends and school holidays. The 17-year-old is the first person to keep the senior’s events running smoothly such as the Chinese New Year Celebration, Moon Festival and the Club’s 30th anniversary. Krishna has provided invaluable tech assistance to seniors, as his expertise has empowered the elderly to stay connected and engaged in the modern world.

Nune volunteers seven hours each week to the 1st Denistone East (Ararat) Scout Group. During COVID, the 24-year-old transitioned the Scout Group to online activities and she assisted in creating other Scout programs. When new children join the group, many kids struggle with self-confidence and creating friendships. Nune has provided a great environment for scout-aged children to find and establish friendships and give them a sense of belonging.

Over the past seven years, Yanni has volunteered over 15 hours each week with the Ararat FC, ARS Araz Chapter Committee, Mosaic Metros Futsal Club and the City Tattersalls Club Bike Riding Fundraiser for Gotcha4Life Foundation and RSL LifeCare Veteran Services. The 24-year-old was also part of a community bike riding fundraiser to help Artsakh families relocate to Armenia due to the Artsakh war in 2023. The full-time university student also manages the Ararat FC Bunnings barbeque and all operational tasks with the club, with a main emphasis on player welfare, team morale and building the club.

Individual Volunteer of the Year Nominee

Since 2002, Afsana has been a volunteer for the Presbyterian Aged Care - North Ryde Community Aid. The 83-year-old has dedicated her Monday mornings to the Armenian Seniors group and also assists with the monthly bus outings. Afsana has been described as the “backbone” of the group due to managing morning tea, calling Bingo and coordinating singing and dancing.

Alberto volunteers nearly 25 hours a week to the Italian Language and Culture Group at Ryde. Alberto created this group and he sometimes donates over $1000 for organising, advertising and promoting events like the monthly book club and outings to promote the Italian diaspora and culture in Ryde. Alberto’s free events in the community encourage people with disabilities to attend and for others who want to practice their Italian. The 51-year-old is also a volunteer journalist for two Sydney-based Italian newspapers.

For over 15 years, Anita has been a senior volunteer at the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Australia. She volunteers over 20 hours a week to numerous projects at the Eastwood-based charity. Each month, Anita prepares and delivers food parcels to financially struggling and disadvantaged people in Ryde. She also visits over 100 properties in the community to provide care for seniors and this improves their mental well-being and physical health.

For over 12 years, Annabel has volunteered for the Rotary Club Macquarie Park branch on ANZAC Day as part of their fundraising activities. The 76-year-old spends her retirement helping others as she spends two days a week as a Bus Assistant with Stryder Community Transport.  For nearly three years, Annabel has been Volunteer Vice President for Hunters Hill Theatre and she looks after the box office and marketing for the productions held at Club Ryde.

Bijinder Dugal is a full-time volunteer as she’s co-founder of AASHA Australia Foundation Limited that provides enriched educational, entertainment and holistic activities for seniors with an Indian background. The former Assistant Principal at Ryde Public School has been the driving force on AASHA’s programs on preventing early dementia and Alzheimer’s and plans to provide cancer screening and prevention. Bijinder is also a human rights activist, and she was nominated for the 2023 Australian of the Year.

For over two years, Catherine has volunteered her time as an English teacher at the Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC). The charity provides settlement support services for newly arrived migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants. At CMRC, Catherine prepares lessons to meet the needs of a diverse group of students, focussing on skills which encourage people new to Australia to become more fully involved in their local community and society.

Dr Ching has an outstanding volunteer CV, as for 10 years he has dedicated his time for the Eastwood Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, CASS Care, The Salvation Army, Lifeline, The Lupas Association of NSW Inc, Centre For Cultural Competence Australia (CCCA), Royal Rehab Foundation, City of Ryde committees and CMRC. Dr Ching promotes multiculturalism and integration of CALD communities, especially for people with a Chinese background.

Dr Lo has an excellent volunteer resume as he’s on the City of Ryde Lunar New Year Festival Committee and Council’s Multicultural Advisory Committee. He’s President of the Australian Asian Association of Bennelong Inc (AAAB) and he played a key role at Eastwood’s 2023 Chinese Moon Festival. Dr Lo dedicates his time with CMRC as Multicultural Ambassador and  he is on the Ryde Police Area Command Community Safety Precinct Committee. The Taekwondo Instructor is also on the Eastwood Chamber of Commerce Committee, Macquarie Park Ryde Business Chamber Committee and volunteers with FITA’s Clean up the World projects.

Edna has an impressive volunteer CV as for 30 years she has been Chair for the Ryde Eisteddfod, for 38 years she has been on the Granny Smith Committee and for over 30 years Edna has been a member of the Eastwood Chamber of Commerce. Edna has given her life to the community and continues to do so in her retirement. She was a sitting Councillor for more than 30 years and Edna was awarded the Centenary Medal as the first female Mayor of the City of Ryde and she served multiple terms as Mayor.

Estelle is a greenhouse volunteer at Giant Steps Sydney, as she educates teachers on gardening and develops horticultural programs for students with disabilities. The 74-year-old has raised over $30,000 for the-all ages autistic school due to her homemade produce stall at community markets. Estelle spends nearly 30 hours each week in the Greenhouse and baking at home.

For the past three years, Hyeon has volunteered over 15 hours each week for a social support group for Korean seniors. The 62-year-old has completed First Aid, Manual Handling and Safe Food Handling certificates. This has enabled Hyeon to assist with preparing meals, maintaining cleanliness and ensuring the health and safety of the group. Hyeon provides emotional support to seniors in the community who are isolated due to language barriers.

Jeanette has an exceptional volunteer CV due to her work with CMRC events, Multicultural Ambassador with the City of Ryde, Mental Health Foundation Australia as Multicultural Ambassador and is a Mentor with Warrior Women Foundation. For the past eight years, she has worked with CALD communities and has been a translator for Spanish-speaking members of the community. In 2023, Jeanette attended an exclusive breakfast in NSW Parliament for Mental Health Month.

For many years, Jeni has volunteered over 50 hours per week with Share the Dignity, The Nappy Collective, Lane Cove and Ryde Community Services and Every Little Bit Helps, a toiletries donation charity for the homeless and people affected by domestic violence. For Dignity Dishes, the 77-year-old also cooks over 100 meals each week for the homeless and Meals on Wheels Australia. Jeni has helped raise money for people in regional NSW affected by fires, floods and droughts. She still volunteers in the canteen at Boronia Park Primary School, even though it has been eight years since Jeni’s grandchild left the school.

Since 2014, Joe has been the Eastwood Chinese Seniors Citizens Club Vice President as he teaches computer classes and he manages weekly social activities for the club. Joe has volunteered for The Salvation Army and he organised a team to assist the Eastwood Korean Seniors Club on Clean Up Australia Day. Even though the 71-year-old has had two serious knee operations and uses a walking stick, this hasn’t stopped Joe with all his volunteer work.

John has an outstanding volunteer resume, as the 81-year-old is the City of Ryde Eisteddfod Assistant Treasurer and he is the Treasurer for the Ryde City Combined Probus Club Inc.
John is on the Southern Cross Care Marsfield Village Residents Committee and is a member of St Kevins Gregorian Choir. Although John has numerous health conditions, this hasn’t stopped any of his volunteer work in the community.

Since 2020, Ku has taught the Harmonica Seniors Group at CASS CARE and the 75-year-old has orchestrated performances at key cultural and community events like New Year's Day, Harmony Day, Moon Festival and Multicultural Day. Ku invests up to 15 hours a week with the Korean group and he uses music as a tool for education, joy and building a vibrant community. Other member benefits include cultural enrichment, social inclusion, mental wellbeing, intergenerational connection and enhanced quality of life for aged care residents.

For more than five years, Mory volunteered 10 hours per week at CCA NSW Community Hub as a Bus Driver. The Eastwood resident drives seniors to local activities that promote physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Mory provides transport to seniors attending excursions, lunch groups and Cuppa Club. His bus duties provide seniors with independence and they enjoy a better quality of life. 

Nalyn has been a volunteer storyteller at Livvi's Place Ryde for over 10 years. The 36-year-old has an intellectual disability and requires ongoing support to run Storytime sessions. Nalyn practices reading her Storytime books with her Speech Therapist and at Livvi’s Place she introduces new dance routines she has learnt from Perform Ability. Nalyn has even started to sing some songs, which the audience seem to love, and they sing with her too.     


For over 33 years, Nora has provided the Armenian and non-Armenian communities with humanitarian aid and social welfare services. As former Chair of the Araz Chapter, she raised money for The Salvation Army, women affected by cancer at Ryde Hospital and for Syrian refugees who migrated to the City of Ryde. In 2019, Nora was elected to represent Australia on the Central Executive Board of the global Armenian Relief Society. She has also dedicated her time to volunteer at the Granny Smith Festival, West Ryde Easter Parade and Carols on the Common. Nora has fundraised for regional communities affected by floods, bushfires and drought.

For over three years, Pauline has volunteered for the Differently Abled People Association Incorporated (DAPA) which helps young people who have a disability. Pauline has attended event and management committee meetings and has helped the charity connect to local groups and attract new volunteers. She managed to engage leaders in the community to support DAPA's 10th Anniversary Celebration Dinner as there were over 180 attendees and over $5,000 was donated.

Peggy has volunteered many years in the City of Ryde community as convenor for the strings section and is on the Committee of the Ryde Eisteddfod. She’s part of the Chinese Christian Community Service Centre and manages over 100 people attending learning courses at the West Ryde Community Centre and Eastwood Community Centre. There’s a high volume of seniors attending these free courses, as it improves their mental, physical and spiritual health.

Since 2008, Rochelle has volunteered over 20 hours a week to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Her charity work improves mothers’ and babies’ physical, mental and overall health. Rochelle often travels long distances for meetings and stays up late to answer calls from mothers who need help.

This year, Simon will celebrate his 30th anniversary of volunteering with the NSW SES Ryde unit.
Since 1994, Simon has won 11 awards with the SES which includes the NSW Premier's Bushfire Emergency Citation for Contribution and Service to Bushfires from 2019 to 2021. The Plumber has held various roles at the SES from Team Leader to his current role as Rescue Officer. Simon also assists NSW Police, Fire Rescue NSW, Rural Fire Service and other emergency teams in Sydney and regional NSW. The Ryde resident trains and assesses up to 60 SES volunteers each year and sometimes during natural disasters, Simon is away from his family and business for nearly a week. For 29 years, he has volunteered at the Granny Smith Festival and he has been a Marshall since 2014.

For over 15 years, Sona has volunteered with the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Araz Chapter in Ryde and for 10 years Sona has dedicated her time to the Hamazkayine Nairi Chapters & Homenetmen Ararat Chapters. Members are provided with Armenian programs in education, culture, sports and scouts. For over 10 years, Sona has volunteered at the Granny Smith Festival. She also plays the organ and volunteers her time with Our Lady of the Assumption.

For 41 years, Sonya has volunteered her time with Girl Guides Australia and she has won numerous awards which include the Girl Guides Australia Good Service Award. Sonya dedicates her time to the Eastwood Girl Guides and she ensures the activities go beyond weekly meetings as she often organises excursions to astronomy nights at Macquarie University, swimming safety and survival at Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre and canoeing in Lane Cove River.

Tom is the President of the North West Sydney Football Referees Association and in 1998 he built the software that allocates referees to games. For the West Ryde Rovers FC, Tom has dedicated over 16 years to the club as a Committee Member, Selector and Coach. In 2021, Tom was awarded a lifetime membership to the North West Sydney Football Referees Association and North West Sydney Football Association for his ongoing service to soccer in the City of Ryde.

Group Volunteer of the Year Nominees


The AASHA Australia Foundation runs monthly seniors’ groups in Top Ryde and West Ryde. Activities for seniors from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and South Asian communities include social hubs, group exercises, health forums and information sessions. AASHA means hope in Sanskrit and the Foundation helps seniors combat isolation and engage with each other during and outside these group events. Even when seniors can’t attend these sessions, AASHA has embraced digital technology as it’s recorded on Facebook Live.

The Volunteers Team at Ample Abilities Inc supports people with disabilities and their carers in the community by facilitating ongoing social programs since 2019. The volunteers provide sporting events like badminton, art projects, practical skills workshops, dining experiences, fundraising activities, tree planting and social support groups.

Three volunteer Financial Counsellors from CCA NSW Ltd provide 12 hours a week each to individuals, families and groups of consumers who experience debt problems or are in financial distress. The volunteers at Eastwood provide advice on debt management, negotiating with creditors, budgeting, bankruptcy, credit laws and government assistance.


Fraternity In Truth Association (FITA) was established 22 years ago from one simple idea, ‘take one plastic bag.‘ FITA conserves the local environment with regular clean-up events in the community and they aim to reduce rubbish by 20 percent to 30 percent each year. The voluntary organisation is mostly made up of retirees and FITA educates new migrants about waste management and recycling.

Since 2009, volunteers from the Indonesian Welfare Association (IWA) have provided seniors at West Ryde with group activities like exercising, singing, dancing, playing traditional music (angklung), educational excursions, arts and crafts, morning teas, lunches and cultural celebrations. Volunteers also organise fundraising activities like Let’s Dance Celebrations, golf days and food fairs. Most importantly, IWA conducts information sessions on physical and mental health, safety, aged care and services in the community. Seniors participating build stronger relationships, learn from each other and feel more connected to the community.

Since 2016, the volunteers at Meadowbank Mandarin Grandparent’s Support Group have helped seniors improve their quality of life by organising and participating in regular social and cultural activities, plus City of Ryde events. As the group members are predominately Mandarin speaking and English is a second language, the volunteers of all ages promote multicultural integration, social cohesion, informational support and access to community services.

Over 20 years, a group of about 12 volunteers has dedicated about 18 hours a week each organising social and cultural groups like the Presbyterian Aged Care Chinese South African and Armenian groups. To prevent seniors from becoming isolated and lonely, volunteers organise morning teas, lunches, social outings, digital seminars, exercise classes and craft sessions. Seniors experience a strong sense of social connection as research has shown that it prevents death from chronic diseases, improves sleep, helps with mental health, promotes a healthy diet and there’s an increase in physical activities.