A Caringbah South couple, who have been short term foster parents to more than 60 children, have been awarded the Cook Community Medal.
John and Lynn Bell were acknowledged for their role over 26 years with Barnardos Australia at the 2023 Cook Community Awards on Saturday.
The awards, presented to constituents of the Cook electorate by MP and former prime minister Scott Morrison, recognise exceptional service by volunteers in a wide range of areas, including schools, churches, sporting, aged care and hospitals or helping those less privileged or those who have fallen on hard times.
"This year we were again overwhelmed with nominations - each and every one worthy of recognition," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said the majority of the children cared for by John and Lynne Bell were babies between six and 12 months, and they usually spent 12 months with the couple before being placed with adoptive families.
"A testament to the influence and impact they have had is the fact they still have ongoing relationships with a lot of the families they have been involved with," he said.
"In one case, a baby they had from birth was with them until after her first birthday.
"She was then placed into the care of a lovely family who became her long term family, as adoption wasn't an option for her. She continues to have weekends regularly with John and Lynn, and even though she is now 16, she still regards John and Lynn as being integral to her support team."
Full list of recipients:
- Thana Akkari - Zonta Club of Botany Bay
- Greg Allum AM - Wanda Surf Life Saving Club
- John Lynn Bell - Barnardos Australia
- Logan Bennett - Burraneer Rugby Club
- Leona Bennett - Community Volunteer
- Barbara Bowers - New Beginnings Uniting Church - Cronulla Community Café
- Michael Cooper - Community Volunteer
- Warren Dixon - RALLY4EVER
- Meaghan Grove - St John Ambulance Australia - NSW Event Health Services
- Helen Hamilton-Foster - Cronulla Water Polo
- Bob Harrington - Kogarah Bay Progress Association
- Pam Hazelton - Sutherland Shire Dog Training Club
- Madge Horder - Sans Souci Baptist Church
- Trevor Kimber - St Johns Bosco Basketball Club
- The Late Ray Lawson - Justice of the Peace
- David Madden - Sans Souci Football Club
- Fiona Madden - Kingsway Community Care
- Jim Maguire - Endeavour Touch Football Association
- Reg Mahoney - Gymea Community Aid and Information Service
- John Meacham - Cronulla Triathlon Club
- Mikhail Mikhail - St Mary, St Bakhomios St Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church
- Stephen Newell - Lions Club of Cronulla
- Ann O'Mara - Sutherland Shire All Abilities Netball
- Liz Pavett - Cronulla Seagulls Football Club
- Jodie Pritchard - Cronulla Water Polo
- Rev Gordon Robinson - Gymea Anglican Church
- Frank Schreuder - North Cronulla Sea Lice Rugby Club
- Shantelle Tagg - Sylvania Heights Public School
- Tim Thomas - North Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club
- Frank Walter - Mater Dei Church Blakehurst
- Ken Warburton - Sylvanvale
- Emil Weber - Caringbah Rotary Club
- Michael Wirth - Sutherland Shire Water Polo Association
- Michael Woods - Our Lady of Fatima Parish Caringbah
- Paul Zaat - Cronulla RSL Sub-Branch