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Willoughby City Council has celebrated the significant achievements of four community members who’ve been honoured at the recent 2023 Citizen of the Year awards.

At a citizenship ceremony held on Australia Day, attended by 100 new Willoughby citizens from 15 different countries, Willoughby Mayor Tanya Taylor announced the four Willoughby Citzens of the Year award winners.

These were:

  • Maria Chan – Citizen of the Year
  • Lucy Periera – Young Citizen of the Year
  • Meredith Foley – Environmental Citizen or the Year
  • Mary Anne Veliscek – Cultural and Community Development Award

“I congratulate our four award winners for their tremendous contribution to the Willoughby community, which has included helping our youth, people with disabilities, the elderly, our environment and local residents from multi-cultural backgrounds,” Mayor Taylor said.

Maria Chan came to Australia in 1977 and has resided in Willoughby ever since.

Maria is the President and Chartered Member of the Rotary Club Chatswood International and has worked diligently with the local Willoughby community to raise funds for various local projects.

Maria has provided local pensioners and the elderly access to her aged care service and offers to accompany those who are lonely and in need of a friend.

Maria is also the Vice Chair of the Multicultural Community Council of NSW and President of the Chinese Community Council. She has worked tirelessly to help the Chinese Community – both in Willoughby and Sydney at large –  by advocating their working rights and supporting their needs.

Lucy Periera has been part of the Chatswood Youth Centre volunteer management team for more than three years and is also part of the Willoughby Youth Action Group. Lucy has a passion for social change and LGBTIQ+ rights.

“Lucy is a strong youth advocate, taking up every opportunity to learn new skills, attend youth events and represent the Council at youth advisory conferences and Willoughby student exchange programs,” Mayor Taylor said.

Lucy leads student support initiatives and contributes to youth projects, like the Willoughby Youth Action Plan project, and many other volunteering initiatives through her school.

Meredith Foley (main image) has been awarded for her outstanding commitment to environmental conservation through her involvement with the Willoughby Environmental Protection Association (WEPA) as well as her active involvement with many of Council community events including, the Fauna Fair, National Tree Day and many school excursions.

“Meredith is also recognised for her amazing wildlife photography, which has been produced and distributed to the community, through social media and Council’s events and documentation,” Mayor Taylor said.

Mary Anne Veliscek is a member of the Market Gardens Park Community Garden. She is responsible for initiating the building of raised garden beds at the garden to accommodate users with physical disabilities to get involved with gardening.

Mary Anne and her husband and engineer David Carolan (who designed the beds) have worked extremely hard to make these accessible garden beds a reality.

Mary Anne successfully secured funding for the construction of the garden beds through the Community Grants Program with the garden beds constructed with help from other members of the group in late September/ October 2021.