Out of area SES crews call her Mum.
She is Evelyn Lester, the local controller for Hills SES and our new Hills Citizen of the Year.
‘‘I got the name in 2009 when I took an out-of-area crew of 45 volunteers up to Coffs Harbour,’’ Ms Lester remembers.
She said she had to laugh because the volunteer who recruited her to what was then the Baulkham Hills SES now calls her Mum, even though he’s older than her.
He stopped her in 2002 at Norwest Bunnings and asked her to join.
“I had finished caring for my [dying] mum for nine years and was thinking ‘What I should do now?’," Ms Lester said.
The former nurse said joining the SES gave her the experience of going out to help more people.
Since taking on the role of controller, she has doubled the membership.
She gives 260 hours a month, on average, to the SES.
‘‘Evelyn is a marvellous asset to the people of her community,’’ Hills mayor Michelle Byrne said as she presented the award at a private thank-you dinner hosted by the Hills Council in Castle Hill last night.
The Senior and Junior Citizens of the Year were also named.
They are Shelley Purser and Alexander Roberts, respectively.
“I have no idea who nominated me,’’ Mrs Purser said.
‘‘I know it wasn’t Geoff [her husband of 60 years].
‘‘That’s the humbling part you see; somebody’s noticed.’’
The timing of the award couldn’t be sweeter as it is Mrs Purser’s 82nd birthday on Australia Day.
An elder of Wesley Uniting Church, she has volunteered with Zonta for 33 years and works with women recovering from breast cancer surgery.
She also started the Gazelles Netball Club in 1967.
It’s the longest-running netball club in The Hills.
Young Citizen of the Year, Alexander Roberts, is the founder of a can recycling program at his school that now recycles millions of cans each year to raise money for an orphanage in Vietnam and sponsorship of five children in Africa.
‘‘The awards recognise those who live up to our Australian ideals of looking after our mates, getting involved and having a go,’’ Cr Byrne said.
She said the calibre of entries in 2013 was so high that the council created a whole new category – Hero Awards.
AT A GLANCE
■Young Citizen of The Year Award: Alexander Roberts.
■Senior Citizen of the Year Award: Shirley Purser.
■Citizen of the Year Award: Evelyn Lester.
■Community Project of the Year Award: The Hills District Historical Society, for their permanent museum, showcasing the area’s rich heritage.
■Young Hero Award: Rick Gatenby, who has his own non-profit clothing chain that donates all proceeds to charity. He also has a Facebook page through which he reaches out to 1800 ‘‘friends’’ who are suffering depression and/or going through difficult times. He now hopes to start a youth group in The Hills.
■Senior Hero: Lionel Smith, who joined the Rural Fire Service when he was about 14 and has risen to the position of fire control officer. Nearly 70 years later, he still gives his time to the Kenthurst Rural Fire Brigade as deputy captain, chainsaw co-ordinator, training course instructor and tanker driver.
■Senior Hero: James Harrison (absent on the night), who has made more than 1000 life-saving blood donations in his 70-plus years.