Paralympian Lauren Parker takes out top gong in Newcastle’s Citizen of the Year Awards

24 Jan 2022

An all-female line-up has taken out City of Newcastle’s 2022 Citizen of the Year Awards, with a Paralympian, a law undergraduate and a passionate community advocate among this year’s recipients.

Announced at an intimate award ceremony at the City Administration Centre on Monday, the awards formally recognised the outstanding contributions of extraordinary Novocastrians over the past year.

Silver Paralympic medallist and three-time world paratriathlon champion Lauren Parker was crowned Citizen of the Year following remarkable results in Tokyo and on the world series circuit in Abu Dhabi. It came less than five years after Lauren was told she would never walk again after a horrific cycling accident whilst training for an Ironman event left her paralysed from the waist down.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Lauren had proudly represented the green and gold and her hometown on the world stage, overcoming many challenges and obstacles along the way.

“Lauren epitomises the Citizen of the Year title; her never-give-up attitude inspiring countless Novocastrians as she achieves anything she sets her mind to,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Her strength and resilience is admirable, always giving 110 per cent despite the daily battles we don’t see, managing ongoing pain from her injuries.”

Newcastle’s youngest Citizen of the Year in recent history, Lauren said she was honoured to receive the award.

“Every day since the accident has been a physical and mental battle but training and representing Newcastle helps me channel the pain into a positive outlet and show others that they too can achieve their dreams no matter what life throws at them,” Lauren said.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my journey, including and especially my friend Brad Fernley who has been by my side every step of the way before and after my accident. Thank you.”

University of Newcastle law and business student Ashley Harrison was named Young Citizen of the Year 2022 in recognition of her advocacy for victims of revenge porn, phishing, and impersonation, helping young women avoid exploitation through her start-up social enterprise, Verified Associates.

Jan Chamberlain is Newcastle’s Senior Citizen of the Year 2022, leading Hamilton South Community Solutions, a dedicated group that works to improve the amenity of the area and reduce the stigma surrounding social housing in addition to supporting residents through information, activities and workshops.

Taking out the Community Group of the Year award was Hunter Peace Group, recognised for its advocacy in re-affirming the City of Newcastle as a Nuclear Free Zone, a declaration first made by the late Lord Mayor Joy Cummings AM on 29 June 1982.

Represented by Secretary Lynda Forbes, Hunter Peace Group is working with City of Newcastle to establish a dedicated Hunter Peace Park in Tighes Hill opposite the TAFE Campus, cementing the city’s long and proud history of peace activism.