First lady Linda is first lady of Coffs
IT says something about the character of Linda Jones that she would rather promote her beloved Coffs Harbour Coastal Patrol than herself.
But there's no way the 57-year-old grandmother can escape the limelight this week after being named Coffs Harbour City's Citizen of the Year.
Linda, who was nominated by Quota, said she was 'really surprised' when her name was read out at Monday's Australia Day ceremony.
“I didn't expect it because I don't really think what I do is so remarkable. I just do it,” she said. “I'm really proud to receive it. It's recognition of the profile the coastal patrol has in Coffs Harbour now.
“I find the idea of safety at sea very important and if I can help with that, that's all that matters.”
Linda reckons volunteering must run in the blood, considering her mum, Jean, received an Australia Day award 25 years ago in country Victoria for her work with Meals on Wheels, Red Cross and the local hospital auxiliary.
“She's so proud of me, she's been ringing everyone she knows,” she said.
Linda joined the coastal patrol nine years ago and she's been the divisional commander for the past four. Her husband, Tony, is the patrol's information technology officer and her number one supporter.
“I joined because my husband and I have a yacht and, so while on shore, we thought it was a good idea to help the people who are on boats so when we go out to sea, the service will help us,” she said.
As the commander, she's responsible for the day-to-day management of the organisation which includes the radio room, crew training and the fundraising team 'that raises the money to pay our bills'. She's also on call around the clock.
In addition, she's in charge of publicity to ensure the coastal patrol remains highly visible in our community.
Linda said she was particularly proud of the large team of volunteers working for the coastal patrol.
“They're all very well trained to do the job of manning the radios. We have no trouble manning the roster 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.
“The highlight for me has been achieving our purpose-built base, which was opened in 2004, and buying our purpose-built rescue boat in 2007. We have a really good team now and my team are very proud of me. I've been getting phone calls and emails congratulating me on my award.”
When Linda has the odd moment or two away from the coastal patrol, she focuses on the rebuilding of the yacht, Fairhaven, which she and Tony can't wait to complete.
Community Event of the Year: Hearing Awareness Expo. Junior Sports Award: Loren Caban. Senior Sports Award: Nan Cowling. Volunteer of the Year: Kevin Doyle. Voluntary Organisation Award for Community Excellence: Coffs Harbour Branch, Australian Red Cross. Sue Hunter Memorial Award: Kathy Puddey. Young Citizen of the Year: Rosie Phillips. Citizen of the Year: Linda Jones. Citizen of the Year - Highly Commended: Lee Millard-Newton.
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