Tireless community volunteer Howard Mole has been named a Freeman of the City of Newcastle in recognition of decades of service to the city and its people.
Mr Mole is only the 14th
Novocastrian to receive this honour, one that is rarely awarded and only to those who have provided the highest level of community service. Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes presented the award today at an event at Newcastle's Soul Café.
"Howard has given a lifetime of service to our community, through more than four decades of charity work. Known as a quiet achiever, and never one to seek recognition for his contribution, Howard's decades of service speaks well and truly for itself," said the Lord Mayor.
Mole is perhaps best known for his work with the Newcastle Toy Run, the oldest annual event of its kind in Australia, which is focused on providing toys and support for Hunter kids and families at Christmas. The program allows parents to come in and choose a toy for their children, take it home, wrap it and put it under the tree, giving them the self-esteem of being able to provide for the children, while the children receive the gift of knowing that their parents (or Santa Claus) were able to give them a present.
Throughout his working career, Mole not only contributed his time to the Toy Run and other charity work, but he also chose a career that allowed him to give back to the community as an officer of the Salvation Army, and as the manager of Baptist Care Community Centre at Windale.
Now retired from paid work, Mole has not slowed down a bit in his charity commitments, continuing to serve the charities he has worked with for decades and even taking on additional roles.
"Recently, Howard took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator for CityServe, helping to successfully implement Newcastle CityServe projects," said the Lord Mayor.
"Howard is also a driving force behind the Hunter Bikers Tinned Food & Blanket Run and the Newcastle Bikers Memorial Ride.
"On top of this, Howard has held various roles, including president, with the Rotary Club of Waratah, and he serves on the board of Soul Cafe.
"Howard's passion and commitment to helping the community is unmatched, and it is a great pleasure to present the Freeman of the City medal to a truly remarkable Novocastrian."
Past local recipients of the Newcastle's Freeman of the City award include Warren Smith, Joy Cummings, John and Margaret McNaughton, Charlie Jones and Frank Purdue.
The honour dates back to the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom, a tradition that lives on ceremonially in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.