Lugarno father of five Paul Napier says he is “just an average dad”, but his family and the Australian Father’s Day Council think otherwise.
Mr Napier was awarded the accolade of Australian Community Father of the Year at a ceremony on Friday at Government House in Sydney.
The award acknowledged his devotion to his family, including nine grandchildren, two of whom have special needs, and his work over more than 25 years “as a dedicated community and parish volunteer”.
Former NSW Premier Mike Baird, a father of three, was the recipient of the 2017 Australian Father of the Year, in recognition of his ongoing commitment to his children and to the wider community.
The awards are given ahead of Father’s Day each year by the council and The Shepherd Centre, which helps children with hearing loss develop spoken language skills.
The Community Father of the Year Award aims to celebrate and acknowledge the vital role “everyday” fathers play within families, and in the wider community.
Mr Napier’s volunteer work has included 25 years of providing meals for the homeless as a founding member of a St Vincent de Paul Night Patrol at Liverpool and 21 years in Kairos Prison Ministry Australia, which strives to bring faith, hope and rehabilitation to young offenders in the jail system.
In 2000, Mr Napier went to the US to observe a new program in the juvenile justice system, and introduced it in Australia.
Other roles have included volunteer counsellor for the Sisters of Charity Outreach at Miller in south-western Sydney, with a focus on helping refugees, and involvement in a program for children of prison inmates.
Mr Napier is on the committee of the Lending A Hand Group at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Peakhurst.
His daughter Kate nominated him for the award on behalf of her sisters, Debra, Amy, Kylie and Kerrianne and their mother Robyn.
“It’s hard for me to put into words just how much our father means to our family,” Ms Napier wrote.
“We truly believe he is one in a million.
“Not just for what he brings to his family, but mostly for his tireless and selfless good deeds which he brings in service both to his immediate and the wider community.”
Mr Napier was completely taken aback.
“I had no idea what they were doing,” he said.
“I am just an average dad, who has had a few opportunities.
“I learnt a lot of skills with St Vincent de Paul, and one thing led to another.
”Everything I have done is as part of a team.”
Mr Napier said the Lending A Hand Group at his parish church had “a dynamic committee”.
Their activities range from financial supporting the homeless, drought-affected farmers and victims of domestic violence to maintaining homes for the Homicide Victims' Support Group.