COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Shayne Neumann with this year’s Blair Volunteer MP Award winner Steph Shannon.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Shayne Neumann with this year’s Blair Volunteer MP Award winner Steph Shannon. Rob Williams

Blair Volunteers Awards thank ‘life blood’ of community

MORE than 40 local volunteers were recognised for their contributions to Ipswich and the Somerset region at the recent Blair Volunteers Awards ceremony.

A wide range of volunteers were nominated for the awards, from tuckshop helpers to squash coaches.

It was coordinator of Hilda's House kids' grief groups, Steph Shannon, who received the highest honour of the evening.

Ms Shannon said receiving the Blair Volunteer MP Award from Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann was a humbling experience.

"Volunteers are the essence of care in the Ipswich community. I have been very fortunate at Hilda's," she said.

"It has been a very rewarding career.

"I was honoured and touched to receive the award. It really highlighted the work of the many hundreds of volunteers around Ipswich."

The dedicated volunteer, who will retire at the end of this year, worked as a paediatric nurse for 47 years before leaving her chosen career to spend the next 11 years guiding children through the grieving process.

"Kids have really resonated in my life," she said.

"My dad died when I was 10 and we had six children in our family so we rarely had two pennies to rub together.

"But I had a close extended family who were a wonderful support.

"That strong sense of support always stuck with me."

Mr Neumann said he started the awards so the community could formally recognise and thank those people, like Ms Shannon, who made outstanding contributions to the region.

"I was overwhelmed by how many nominations were received and it just goes to show that locally we're rich with community champions and people who selflessly give up their time to help out," Mr Neumann said.

"This diverse group of people are the life-blood of our community and keep our tuckshops, community groups, not-for-profit organisations and sporting clubs on track."

Mr Neumann said more than six million people volunteered year in Australia which added an estimated $16 billion boost to the economy.

"Volunteers don't help out because they want thanks or reward; they do it because of a desire to be a part of their community and to provide opportunities for others in our schools, community groups and sporting clubs," he said.

"I'd like to congratulate all 41 volunteers and thank them for their service and contributions to the Ipswich and Somerset communities."



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