John Lardner with partner Terri and mother Shirley after receiving the 2021 Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year award on Australia Day. Photo: Tim Jarrett
John Lardner with partner Terri and mother Shirley after receiving the 2021 Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year award on Australia Day. Photo: Tim Jarrett

‘My heart is bursting’: John’s mum says it all

While John Lardner is quick to acknowledge the efforts of his team during the 2019/20 bushfires, the proud volunteer said he was honoured to be chosen as the Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year.

Awarded to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the community, John could not be anymore deserving, leading his fellow volunteers through the horrendous bushfires of last summer.

Mr Lardner put his life on the line for the Nana Glen community and ahead of the award vowed if he won it would be dedicating it to his team and the Rural Fire Service, which he has been involved with for 38 years.

John Lardner is the Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year for 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett
John Lardner is the Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year for 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett

“I wasn’t expecting it. It’s a great honour and a privilege,” he said.

“It means a lot and means the community have recognised the things we do as volunteers. Without a team you are nothing.”

Watching on was Mr Lardner’s 90-year-old mum Shirley, who was overjoyed and immensely proud of her son’s achievements.

“My heart is bursting,” she said.

The awards, held at the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, recognise a wide range of people working hard across various parts of the Coffs Harbour community.

Australia Day Awards: Citizen of the Year nominee Julie Ferguson, Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year John Lardner, Social Inclusion Award winner Elizabeth Rogers, Volunteer of the Year John Higgins and Citizen of the Year nominee Michael Bourne Photo: Tim Jarrett
Australia Day Awards: Citizen of the Year nominee Julie Ferguson, Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year John Lardner, Social Inclusion Award winner Elizabeth Rogers, Volunteer of the Year John Higgins and Citizen of the Year nominee Michael Bourne Photo: Tim Jarrett

Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to Woolgoolga High School graduate Tarryn McCarthy who has been tireless in her efforts representing the school and helping her peers.

Surfing sensation Rosie Smart’s stellar year on the board earned her the Sportsperson of the Year award and the Bishop Druitt College student is looking forward to more success in 2021.

John Higgins became the Coffs Harbour Volunteer of the Year for 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett
John Higgins became the Coffs Harbour Volunteer of the Year for 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Volunteer of the Year went to John Higgins who has been instrumental in the continued expansion of the South Coffs Community Gardens, which has grown from a cow paddock to vibrant community space in just a few years.

Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Rogers received the Social Inclusion Award for the work she has done with members of the refugee community. In particular, one family who fled war-torn Burundi said meeting Beth was like “winning a lotto”.



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