Community contributions recognised with Woman of the Year award

At the SIAHTO Woman of the Year award night, from left, Jerry Bourke, Murray Tindal, Mayah Bourke-Tindal, Pyper Bourke-Tindal, Neila Bourke, Perrie Bourke, who flew in from Brisbane for the occasion, Rae Hall, Kylie Bourke-Tindal and Rhiannon Mulholland.

The 2018 SIAHTO Woman of the Year is longtime volunteer and worker for the community, Neila Bourke.

Mrs Bourke was announced as the winner of the annual award at the SIAHTO changeover dinner on Tuesday, November 27.

Mrs Bourke said she was overwhelmed when her name was announced. “ I don’t do these things for recognition, I do them to help out,” she said.

“It’s lovely to be recognised. You don’t expect it, but it’s nice when it happens.”

Mrs Bourke has been an active volunteer in the community for over forty years, volunteering in diverse groups.

Starting in 1975, Mrs Bourke volunteered at Narrabri West Public School with class reading groups, which she did until 1986.

In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, Mrs Bourke also helped the teams in teeball, softball and tennis.

In 1986, Mrs Bourke volunteered her time as a door-knocker for the Salvation Army.

She joined SIAHTO in 1983, and served on the committee 8 times, holding the position of president in 1999. Mrs Bourke continued to show her community spirit by volunteering with Telecross in 1997, an organisation set up to ring elderly residents and check that they were alright. Mrs Bourke did this for two years, during which she also helped less fortunate people in the community through the St Vincent de Paul Society, from 1997 to 2001.

In 2000, Mrs Bourke extended her hand to cancer patients, undertaking fundraising activities for CanAssist and then the Cancer Council in 2001, as well as providing practical assistance to local community members with cancer through the Narrabri Cancer Support Group from 2002. CanAssist and the Narrabri Cancer Support Group benefitted from Mrs Bourke’s untiring efforts until 2017, and she remains an active volunteer for the Cancer Council.