Volunteers scoop Australia Day Awards

Last modified on 26 January 2021


A tireless Artarmon volunteer, a passionate carer for bushland and a first aider who helped during the bushfires were three people recognised for their efforts at Willoughby City Council’s Australia Day ceremony today (26 January, 2021).

Keith Anderson was recognised as Willoughby City Council’s Citizen of the Year for his tireless work with the Artarmon Progress Association.

Kevin Mathers was awarded Environmental Citizen of the Year for his decades of work caring for the bush and training others to do so.

Brooke Allan was Young Citizen of the Year for her work as a volunteer first aider with St John’s Ambulance, including working alongside the Rural Fire Service during last year’s bushfires.

Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney presented the awards with Trent Zimmerman, Member for North Sydney at the ceremony.

“I’m impressed by the calibre of nominees and congratulate the recipients on their outstanding efforts to help our community flourish,” Mayor Giles-Gidney said.

“In what has been a difficult year, it’s a perfect opportunity to recognise people who have worked selflessly in our community, not just this year but for many years,” she said.

The Australia Day ceremony, held at The Concourse, Chatswood heard from Willoughby Australia Day Ambassador opera singer Amelia Farrugia and granted citizenship to 42 new Australians. 

Citizen of the Year

Keith Anderson of Artarmon


Keith has dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy to the Artarmon Progress Association (APA), a community based organisation, since 1998. Keith has held numerous roles on the APA executive committee including President (2001-2004) and Vice President (1998-2001) and continues to be actively involved in the work of the APA by contributing to submissions, delivering copies of the Artarmon Gazette to households and businesses, reading Council communiques, and attending committee and public meetings.

Keith is now in his 80s but his dedication and passion for the community, and his involvement in local issues, has not waned. Keith's significant contribution has had a wonderful impact on the Artarmon community.

His ongoing commitment to the APA has helped to maintain a vibrant executive committee and strong advocacy on issues that impact the community.

Keith worked for Westpac for 41 years, retiring in 1993 and has enjoyed travelling with wife Annette in his retirement. They bought their first home together in Artarmon in 1964 and raised their son and daughter there, apart from a stints in Port Moresby, Melbourne and Perth when Keith was transferred there for work. He filled roles including branch manager, Head of Lending and eventually Chief Manager at Westpac. Keith grew up in Waverton.

Environmental Citizen of the Year

Kevin Mathers of Middle Cove


Kevin was recognised for his decades of work caring for the bush and training others to do so. Kevin’s name is well known among bush regenerators, having worked for many years in bushland from Middle Harbour to West Chatswood. Kevin was a contract bush regenerator for Willoughby City Council for twelve years until 2008 and has volunteered extensively.

Described by his fellow bush care volunteers as a ‘revelation’ because of his rich knowledge of the bush, his enthusiasm is said to be contagious.  He is acknowledged as freely sharing his knowledge, with one fellow volunteer stating his knowledge of native plants and weeds is “unmatched” in Willoughby.

His bush regeneration works were documented in a book by author Ross Welling, featuring reserves before and after Kevin’s regeneration efforts.

Young Citizen of the Year

Brooke Allan of Lindfield


Brooke is a cadet leader at St. John Ambulance NSW, Harbourside combined division based in Chatswood.

She is trainer and mentor of cadets aged 12-17 years. Brooke prepares and delivers first aid training to cadets and trains the adults in specialist subjects such as mental health first aid. At just 20 years old, she is highly regarded by her peers and the management team of which she is an integral part.

She is known for her compassion in her role as a cadet leader and first responder.

Brooke is frequently a team leader at community and sports events where she runs the St. John posts as well as treating patients. She is trusted by her fellow members and older members are comfortable taking directions from her.

During the bushfire season she completed 250 hours service over 11 days on a 24 hour roster providing first aid to the RFS volunteers and local community members. During this time she worked for the RFS stations and was available not only to provide first aid, but to listen to the concerns of the RFS volunteers.

She was nominated and received a bronze commendation from St John’s Ambulance for her work with a teenager who was threatening to take his own life. Brooke spoke at length to the teenager and advised him that help was available. She listened to his concerns and eventually convinced him to go to hospital by ambulance.

Brooke was awarded regional cadet leader of the year and was recently announced as the upper north shore youth leader of the year too.

She balances her volunteer work with studying paramedicine and part time jobs. Her colleagues say she as a “wonderful demeanour” and is always willing to help and listen to the concerns of others.