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Back in January last year, we spoke with Annie Crawford (right), the founder of Can Too, a non-profit organisation that hosts exercise events to help fund Australian cancer research. The praiseworthy organisation offers half-marathons, triathlons and ocean swims which aim to raise awareness about the importance of exercise in preventing diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity. Participants receive quality training to help them achieve their mission and then 100 per cent of the funds raised go towards cancer research. Starting out with the goal of recruiting 20 people to run in a marathon, the fundraising venture has grown to hundreds of participants seeking to achieve their goals and make a positive impact in their community.


In February we ran a story about the difficulties faced by families and carers in our community - and for local resident and hardworking carer Dr Louise Brown (right), the impact of looking after her father before he entered full-time residential care had a huge impact."The role of being a carer is physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally demanding," she told Peninsula Living. "Many people suffer social deprivation at times and possibly relationship problems." But she revealed that joining a support group is invaluable to many people. "Being able to talk to each other, sharing laughter, sorrow, grief, loss and frustrations is important, plus boxes of tissues and cups of tea and coffee." Anyone struggling with the pressures of becoming a carer should contact Community Connect Northern Beaches on 9931 7750.


Well known for their chain of sports stores, the husband and wife team behind Mike Pawley Shoes & Sports discovered they have a true passion for providing valuable services to underprivileged children in Cambodia. Mike and Suzanne Pawley (pictured left with Cambodian schoolgirls) developed a life-changing program called Happy Days Cambodian Village School Inc to support students in completing their education despite the social disadvantages they face. Shopping at your local store contributes to their mission to provide adequate living conditions to Cambodians and expand the school's enrolment capacity. "Every cent we're given finishes up within the school and village community" Mike told Peninsula Living. "A little money can do so much to change opportunities for kids who deserve the same chance in life as ours."


After being thrust into the position of acting lifeguard supervisor at very short notice, Matthew Hastie quickly proved he was up to the job. So much so he was named Pittwater Lifeguard of the Year 2016. Matthew, a 10-year veteran of the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) put his skills, professionalism and local knowledge to good use on some of Sydney's busiest beaches. Less than a week after his training course a jet ski was used in a daring rescue of a teenager at the notorious Warriewood Blowhole. Matthew was also heavily involved in co-ordinating a joint-agency search and rescue operation for a missing swimmer at Turimetta Beach. "Matt is an extremely popular lifeguard at Pittwater and well respected within the community," ALS southern coordinator Phil Dunn told Peninsula Living. "He really stepped up in the position of acting supervisor and grew as a leader throughout the season. He thoroughly deserves this award."


In April we caught up with Vietnam veteran Sean Rout (pictured left with premier Mike Baird) to talk about what ANZAC Day means to him. The Northern Beaches resident is now on the Harbord RSL Sub Branch committee and is lead organiser of the Soldiers Ave group in Freshwater. Returning to Vietnam a few years ago was a watershed moment for Mr Rout who told Peninsula Living, "I got the guts to go back to Vietnam in 2014. I went to Hanoi to visit a friend who helped me go back to both North and South Vietnam. By chance I met a son of a South Vietnam soldier we fought with. We had a good reception, especially in the South. I couldn't talk like this if I hadn't done that."


The Pittwater Citizen of the Year 2016 was Romilly Madew. A well-respected member of the Pittwater community, Romilly is president of Bilgola Surf Life Saving Club. She is also a passionate advocate for sustainable living, holding positions of both the deputy president of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council and is the CEO of the Green Buildings Council of Australia. Romilly is the first Independent Chair of the Currawong State Park Advisory Board and in October we ran a story on the future plans to turn the area into a major tourist destination. The passionate Pittwater local said, "This is a little bit of paradise that we have right here in Pittwater that has lots of opportunity and potential, but that has to be done right."


After visiting an orphanage in South Africa, peninsula local Robyn Borruso and her family came up with the idea of changing the world one coffee at a time. Back in February last year, the inaugural Change Coffee day was an overwhelming success, raising $8721.70. The initiative involves customers paying for two coffees and only taking one at participating cafes, with the price of the extra cuppa going straight to the cause. The money meant Change Coffee were able to build brand new homes for children who had been orphaned and feed 100 children every day for a whole year. "We ended up signing up 57 cafes - 50 in Sydney, three in regional NSW and four in South Africa!" Robyn told Peninsula Living. "We are very excited about the long distance ones as it shows how the concept will work across the globe. It was a fantastic effort by everyone and there was a great vibe on the day!"


Community arts advocate Lorrie Morgan scooped the 2016 Pittwater Woman of the Year. Serving as president of Pittwater Community Arts for over a decade, the peninsula local was instrumental in the establishment of the popular Pittwater Artists Trail and Pittwater Community Arts Show "This award is a fitting tribute to Lorrie's enormous contribution over so many years," Pittwater MP Rob Stokes said at the ceremony. "Our community is blessed to have so many extraordinary artists who all have benefited from Lorrie's enthusiasm and commitment. Many upcoming artists simply need a platform to help shine and this is where Lorrie's efforts have been so important. Her eagerness to give new artists a go, make arts and cultural activities more accessible and help promote social interaction has been enormously beneficial to our community."


Avalon's Jake Lynch (pictured left in green and gold) not only competed in the World Life Saving Championships, but ended up bringing home three gold medals. "I was over the moon about being selected for the Australian team this year, because my previous season was a bit of a shocker. Yet the season just gone, everything fell into place," Jake told us. The peninsula superstar trained up to eight times a day in the lead-up to the event while also working part-time as a sports coach and studying health and movement at the Australian College of Physical Education. "Winning was pretty overwhelming," he said. "It was my first world championships. In the nations I compete against Australians and New Zealanders, but at this international event there are competitors from 42 different nations."


Just last month, Frenchs Forest mum-of-six Galy O'Connor (right) won her fight to secure life-saving operations for her and 25 others in time for Christmas. Thanks to support from the Northern Beaches community and more than 100,000 signatures on urging the government for vital funding, in mid-December the personal trainer had surgery for a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Not only did the peninsula get behind Galy to share the petition but they emailed and called health minister Jillian Skinner and premier Mike Baird in their thousands. "I'm just so happy because so many people are able to have this operation now," Galy told Peninsula Living after hearing the good news. "If we didn't get it 2017 would be looking very bleak."


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