By Melissa Sheil
INTERNATIONAL Volunteer Day was celebrated to great success in Kalamunda on December 5, with hundreds of volunteers attending a thank you lunch and ceremony to announce the City’s 2020 Local Hero of the Year Award recipients.
The three Local Hero Awards in the categories of Young Local Hero, Community Local Hero and Senior Local Hero, were shared amongst five recipients this year.
Taking out the Young Local Hero of the Year award was 12-year-old Saxon Marrell for his mental health advocacy, volunteer Tae Kwon Do lessons and position as a Telethon Kids Connect Program ambassador.
Saxon, a sufferer of anxiety and severe motor tics, wished to bring awareness to childhood mental illness and decided to start an online fundraiser for Telethon Kids Institute research.
The fundraiser reached its goal of $500 within 24 hours and Saxon has since been upping the goal as the funds continue to surpass them, with $2600 of a $2500 goal raised at time of writing.
“I was really concerned about how the global pandemic was affecting kids who aren’t used to being scared and don’t know how to deal with it,” he said.
“I felt really happy and proud of what I’ve achieved and what I’ve done for the community and being a voice for kids like me.
“Becoming a Telethon Kids ambassador was so cool, Nic Naitanui and Maggie Dent do it too, and I go to events and talk about anxiety and mental health to loads of different people.”
Winning Senior Local Hero of the Year award (in a tie with Peter Hansen) was Bev Morris for her 27 years of work as a volunteer adult literacy tutor with ReadWriteNow.
The former primary school teacher has tutored people with difficulties reading and writing from the age of 15-60 and said the work is reward in itself.
“It’s such a satisfying and rewarding thing to do, seeing the person reach their goal and have the confidence to do what they really want to do and have the courage to admit they would like some help,” she said.
“I often stay with my students for as long as three to five years and it’s wonderful to see them grow and watch them as they go off to do great things with the skills I’ve helped them with.
“I was very overwhelmed and honoured when I found out I’d won an award, I was never expecting to be recognised as I’ve always volunteered my whole life and that’s not why we do it, though it’s still nice.”
Also winning the Senior category was Peter Hansen for his work with the Kalamunda Districts Basketball Association.
Sharon and Craig McCarthy took out the Community Hero of the Year award for their volunteer work at the Kalamunda Soccer Club.