For two years in a row Clarence Valley volunteers have done us all proud at the Northern Rivers Volunteer of the Year awards, this year taking out 3 of the 5 award categories. The 2015 event, hosted by the NSW Centre for Volunteering, was held recently at South Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club. Max Johnson won the adult section and was also named the regions Volunteer of the Year. Helen Cashel won the Senior’s section and the Whiddon Group Grafton Auxiliary took out the Team award. Max Johnson was recognised for his contributions to the Whiddon Group Grafton though he also makes time to support other local groups and clubs including junior rugby league for which he cooks BBQ’s at Bunnings and sets up the fields before games. He also drives for the Grafton Community Bus service. But it is Max’s dedication and service to the Whiddon Group Grafton that inspired his win. Through his many interests, Max is able to build friendships with residents, providing them a link to the outside world. He joined the Wednesday Walking Group to enable more clients to participate and assists those in wheelchairs. He helps set up for special theme days and makes props and other items as needed and drives the bus during weekly outings. He dons the apron on BBQ days and gets in early to make delicious pancakes for all on Pancake Day. Helen Cashel is another very deserving winner, Helen was involved with school canteen and P&C and later become heavily involved with the Scout movement in Grafton and Northern Rivers County. From its commencement early in 1990, Helen served Rathgar Home for the Aged at Ulmarra as a volunteer cook, which she continued to support until it reached an economic level and was offered paid employment. This didn’t put an end to her volunteering however and Helen continued to provide personal time to other areas such as fundraising and activities coordinator. Over the years Helen was also involved with the Grafton RSL Club as well as the Clarence Evening VIEW Club, and went on to join the Grafton View Club. Helen is also currently involved with Livingstone House, is the activities coordinator for the RSL Big River Day Club and is also involved with the local Salvation Army Seniors Group. She has also been a committee member of the Grafton Senior Citizens Club. Our winning streak continued with the awarding of the Whiddon Group Grafton Auxiliary as the regions’ winner of the Volunteer Team of the Year Award. The team is made up of Marie Eggins, Jeanette Bultitude, Maureen Campbell, James Campbell, Joan Carter, Jennifer Harvey, Heather Grantham, Daphne McGregor, Phyllis McSkimmings, Helen Morrison, Beverley Richards, Margaret Turner, Joy Zeitch, Patricia Sharman, Rhonda Courte, Yvonne Robards, Alan MacAnnally, Debbie Cox, and Valda Hodges and are an outstanding group of people, dedicated to making life special for the residents of the Whiddon Group Grafton. All winners will be recognised for their efforts at the NSW Volunteer of the Year ceremony in Sydney later this year and compete for the title of NSW Volunteer of the Year which was won last year by Grafton’s own David Abrahams.