HILLS councillor Yvonne Keane was praised for her services to hearing-impaired children and their families at the University of Western Sydney's annual International Women's Day celebration on Friday.
"What an honour and privilege!" said Mrs Keane of Kellyville, one of 18 women nominated for Women of the West awards.
Click on the arrow below to hear from this year's UWS Women of the West.
The Women of the West awards were established by the university nine years ago. They recognise women for leadership in their fields and for working tirelessly to make our community a better place to live.
Mrs Keane received a Highly Commended prize from Faye Lo Po', a former NSW minister for women.
In the audience was Mrs Keane's husband Anthony, children Saskia and Asher, her mother Jacquie Thorpe and Hills mayor Michelle Byrne.
Ms Keane was a driving force in saving Hear the Children at Kellyville from closure four years ago.
The service teaches hearing-impaired children aged six weeks to six years to listen and speak, including her son Asher, who was born with a hearing impairment in March 2009. Ms Keane raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure its day-to-day operations continued, with help from media partner the Hills News.
Glenis Sheldrick, the special projects manager at Fairfax Community Newspapers, nominated her for this award.
‘‘I am now focused on a larger national agenda to create the world’s first multidiscipline early intervention facilities – super-centres – to provide life-changing services to children with disabilities and delays,’’ Mrs Keane said.
She has since founded Reach for the Rainbow — a national organisation that raises awareness of the benefits of early intervention for babies and preschoolers.
She is planning a major fund-raiser at Bella Vista Farm on New Year's Eve.
‘‘I think it’s about time that the families in the Hills district had their own stellar family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration,’’ she said.
The 2013 Woman of the West recipient was Alison McLaren, policy manager at the Parramatta-based Urban Growth NSW, who received the award for her work as former president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.
The UWS Young Woman of the West was Mariah Okeroa, a North Parramatta resident who received her award for her charitable work and advocacy for Maori and Pacific Islander youth, as well as for her work on the NSW Youth Advisory Council and Young Offender’s Advisory Council.