Newly elected Sutherland Shire councillor Laura Cowell has revealed challenges she has faced in her personal life after being honoured as the 2022 Local Woman of the Year for the Miranda electorate.
Cr Cowell said "living in a refuge from the age of 14 and having my beautiful daughter at 17, I realised from a very young age that my choices would change my outcome in life".
An Alfords Point resident and the first female vice president of the Sutherland Shire Football Association, Cr Cowell was elected to represent E Ward at the council election in December 2021.
Miranda MP and Minister for Small Business and Fair Trading, Eleni Petinos, said, "Laura is a community minded individual who is kicking goals as an advocate for local sport and vulnerable people in our community".
"Laura has volunteered her time to many local organisations and projects including Cafe Y," Ms Petinos said.
Cr Cowell was presented with her award at the NSW Women of the Year function at Darling Harbour on March 9.
In a Facebook post, Cr Cowell gave an insight into her personal life while encouraging other women to "step forward" for the benefit of the community.
Cr Cowell's post reads:
"On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to attend the 2022 Women of the year awards with the amazing Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce & Hon Eleni Petinos. When I listen to people speak I try to ensure I have at least one takeaway, yesterday's takeaway from the various speakers was 'use your story to inspire others.'
"My story is way to complex and long for FB and also involves other people whose story is not mine to share, so I'll give a short snippet.
"Growing up as a disadvantaged youth my childhood was not easy, some would say I did not have a childhood at all.
"Living in a refuge from the age of 14 and having my beautiful daughter at 17, I realised from a very young age that my choices would change my outcome in life.
"Armed with this knowledge I decided that I would choose to look at every challenge as an opportunity. As each day passes, I take what I can learn from it and discard the rest, life is too short to waste and we can never get the days back once they are gone.
"Most recently I had another challenge when I was diagnosed with Fibrous Dysplasia / McCune Albright Syndrome in early 2021, which is rare and incurable(more to come on this opportunity) and decided to run for Council at the same time.
"My specialist decided I must trial a treatment of Zoldronic Acid Infusion in November (which knocked me for 6), this was right in the final weeks of the campaign. I must say this tested me!
"However, I, like everyone else, am on this world to give back to our communities and each other, so no matter what that is my focus.
"I do this in several ways:
"With my little snippet done, I have come to the reason why I wrote it in the first place.
"Why was I at the breakfast?
"The beautiful, Hon Eleni Petinos Minister for Small Business & Fair trading, chose to recognise my achievements by awarding me with the 2022 Miranda Local Women of the Year Award.
"I am deeply thankful that Eleni chose me, we are blessed in the Sutherland Shire to have so many deserving people in our community doing amazing things.
"Step forward, volunteer and make our community stronger."
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