The nominees for this year's Coffs Harbour Awards - from left Citizen of the Year winner Jean Vickery with Michael Bourne, Warren Hollyman (representing Sawtell Fun Day), Olissa Onley, Kaleb Darbin, Emma Millie Serisier, Dean Evers, Nora Brooks, Teo Ross, Nathan Stary-Wynn, Heather Orme and Barbara Haigh. Picture submitted by Coffs Harbour City Council.
The nominees for this year's Coffs Harbour Awards - from left Citizen of the Year winner Jean Vickery with Michael Bourne, Warren Hollyman (representing Sawtell Fun Day), Olissa Onley, Kaleb Darbin, Emma Millie Serisier, Dean Evers, Nora Brooks, Teo Ross, Nathan Stary-Wynn, Heather Orme and Barbara Haigh. Picture submitted by Coffs Harbour City Council.

Tireless servant’s top gong

VOLUNTEERING has proven addictive for Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year Jean Vickery.

Jean, current Woolgoolga Lions Club president, was named Citizen of the Year at a ceremony in front of family and friends at the Botanic Gardens in Coffs on Australia Day.

"I've been volunteering since I was 22," she said.

"I love putting a smile on people's faces."

Her first volunteering job was in a school canteen but since then she has had a long association with the Red Cross and many organisations aimed at helping patients to hospitals in Armidale and even Sydney, both when she was living in Guyra and when she moved to Coffs 12 years ago.

But it was her association with the Lions club, which she joined five years ago, that was a big part of why she was honoured on Australia Day.

Living by the adage "you're only as young as you feel", the 83-year-old and her Lions friends, backed by donations from the public and money raised by the monthly Lions barbecue at Woolworths and other fundraisers, have been regular visitors to drought- and fire-affected towns.

Believing in a hand-up not a hand-out, Jean and her crew have been heading out to help others.

"We bought 20 tanks for Nymbodia," she said, explaining one of the club's recent projects, where they were able to replace water tanks melted in the fires and allow people to return home. Setting up a laundromat in her former home town, drought-affected Guyra, was another project close to her heart - especially after witnessing so many people without water, including a single mother of four.

"People wanted to donate (washing) machines from here but we wanted to make sure everything we needed was bought in the town," she said.

Jean said she was one of the first women in the Woolgoolga Lions and wasn't sure she would fit in at first. However, she is now heading towards her second term as president and loving every minute of it. She said the club was always looking for new members.

Twelve local nominees were recognised for their achievements and community spirit in the annual Australia Day Awards this year, with 60 people from 19 countries also receiving their Australian citizenship on the day.