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About the award

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognises the significant contribution of an individual to volunteering within NSW Health. This award aims to acknowledge an individual who:

  • provides excellent support for patients, carers and families
  • acts as a role model for volunteering in NSW Health which promotes volunteer services and inspires other volunteers
  • uses new and innovative ways to engage patients, carers and families.

​​​Winner - Mid North Coast Local Health District: Helen Mears


Transcript - Winner - Helen Mears

Finalist - Mid North Coast Local Health District: Helen Mears


Transcript - Helen Mears

Helen Mears has been a United Hospital Auxiliary (UHA) volunteer at Coffs Harbour Health Campus (CHHC) for approximately 40 years!

Helen has been the President of the local UHA group, affectionately known as the Pink Ladies, for over 30 years.

The Pink Ladies, under Helen’s leadership, have raised more than $3 million for the hospital.

She has tirelessly fundraised for medical equipment, staffed the hospital’s cafe and gift shop which generate the funds for donations, and recruited, managed and inspired countless volunteers throughout her tenure at Coffs Harbour Hospital.

Every staff member at the health campus would say Helen’s contribution to the hospital can be solidly regarded as an “above and beyond” commitment.

Her service is unparalleled at CHHC, making her an extremely special volunteer.

Finalist - Southern NSW Local Health District: Rhonda Crowe


Transcript - Rhonda Crowe

Rhonda has dedicated over 20 years to volunteering. She started her volunteering services at the Bega Hospital in 1999 as a Pink Lady, assisting with the Hospital Auxiliary and continues to volunteer today at South East Regional Hospital.

In 2009, Rhonda began volunteering for the new Dementia and Delirium Hospital program. It didn’t take long to realise the need to extend the program to include patients with special needs, stroke victims, broken limbs and visually impaired

In 2018, Rhonda moved to our new Sub Acute Rehabilitation Unit assisting with the Breakfast Club, supporting them with activities during the day.

Rhonda is a formidable advocate for her community and is an exceptional volunteer who makes continuous efforts to help others. She enriches the lives of her patients, particularly those who are vulnerable or less able to help themselves. The distinctive features about her volunteering work are that she has earned the respect of her peers by becoming a role model in her field and by demonstrating innovation in delivering lasting results.

Finalist - Western Sydney Local Health District: Mary Vincent


Transcript - Mary Vincent

Mary has been a Palliative Care volunteer since 2016 with the Western Sydney LHD Palliative Care Service. As a dedicated volunteer, Mary has demonstrated incredible compassion and kindness to staff, patients’, and families. The kindness that Mary has shown aligns to the Elevating the Human Experience guide and the Kindness Works Here initiative.

Since beginning as a volunteer, Mary has been a "volunteer buddy" for new volunteers, showing them the ropes, and imparting her knowledge and skills as a volunteer. Palliative care can be challenging for staff let alone new volunteers and Mary guides and supports these new volunteers with her gentle and calm presence. Mary’s own lived experience with losing loved ones has meant she has great empathy for others now facing a life-limiting illness and negotiating through the health services. Mary does it with compassion and dignity.

The commitment and valued contributions Mary delivers are inspirational. The invaluable contributions have improved the staff, patient, and carer experience, delivered compassionate and kind care and built strong aligned relationships in WSLHD.

Through Mary’s volunteering, the culture of the service has been strengthened to enhance healing and provide a beautiful human connection.

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