Star Volunteers

Cancer Council New South Wales values the commitment and enthusiasm of all our volunteers. Thank you for all you do to support Cancer Council NSW in its mission to defeat cancer.

The Star Volunteer program calls on volunteers to nominate co-volunteers who you feel are due for special acknowledgement. As such, please find below short biographies on peer-promoted volunteers from the past four years.

Star Volunteers for years earlier than 2016 can be found here 2015, here 2014, and here 2013.


Our Star Volunteer in June 2016 is Marilyn Harrigan

marilyn harrigan

Marilyn has just celebrated her 10 year anniversary volunteering in Cancer Council NSW’s Southern region.

Marilyn is the receptionist every Monday in the Wollongong office and also assists patients and their carers at the Cancer Council Information Centre in Wollongong hospital.

Every Monday, Marilyn covers all reception duties by answering the phone, taking bookings for patient transport, data entry and anything else that needs to be done for the day.

Marilyn chose to volunteer at Cancer Council NSW as she wanted to help reduce the impact of cancer, which touches almost everyone in some way. Marilyn enjoys working alongside other wonderful volunteers with whom she has created some lasting friendships. Marilyn says volunteering is good for the soul!

Wearing the daffodil pin is something Marilyn does with pride and we are very grateful to have her volunteering with us.

When she’s not volunteering you might find Marilyn zipping around the streets of Wollongong in her 1960 black Morris Minor!


Our Star Volunteer for May 2016 is Robyn Collin

Robyn CollinCongratulations and thank you to Robyn Collin who is our Star Volunteer for May.

Robyn has been volunteering for Cancer Council NSW in the Hunter Central Coast region since 2009 as a Finance Assistant.

Post-retirement, Robyn decided she wanted to give back to the community and utilise her background in the finance sector, within a volunteer role at her local office in Newcastle.

Every Monday, Robyn will process invoices and organise payments for the recently-launched Home Help program. Robyn’s an avid bowls player, and if she ever misses a shift due to a competition, she’s back in the office on Wednesday to make up for it.

In addition to her finance role, Robyn will step in during her spare time to volunteer at events during the busy Relay for Life season.


nic.094821Our Star Volunteer for April 2016 is Nicole Winram

Nicole has been volunteering for Cancer Council NSW in the Greater Western Sydney region for two years. Prior to the 2015 state election, Nicole met with Minister Baird to present Cancer Council NSW’s Vision for Change. As a result of this meeting, Minister Baird specifically mentioned Nicole’s advocacy efforts when he announced that he would abolish chemo co-payments if he was elected as Premier – a commitment he has since honoured.

Described by her team as a ‘great ambassador’ for Cancer Council NSW, Nicole is not only an advocate and MP Liaison volunteer, but is also involved in her local Relay For Life and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea. Nicole enjoys volunteering alongside people as equally dedicated to beating cancer as she is. Thank you Nicole for your support and involvement.


Our Star Volunteer for March 2016 is Betsy Hone

betsy honeOur March star volunteer award goes to Betsy Hone. Betsy has been volunteering with Cancer Programs as a Finance Assistant since July 2008.

Using her previous experience of working within admin/financial services, Betsy dedicates one day a week to assist with payments for the Emergency Financial Assistance Program. Betsy has been described by her team as ‘accountable, dependable and ‘anything that we may miss, she catches.’

What Betsy enjoys most about volunteering is walking into the office and being greeted by the warmth and friendliness of those around her.

Congratulations, Betsy and thanks for your support.


Our Star Volunteer for February 2016 is Alex Forster

alex forsterAlex has been volunteering with our Greater Western Sydney region since January 2002 as a Community Speaker and Information Centre volunteer. After a personal cancer diagnosis in 1997, Alex decided she wanted to give back as she had received such ‘wonderful support throughout her surgery and treatment.’

At the Information Centre, Alex listens to and support patients as they go through treatment. In her role as Community Speaker, Alex particularly enjoys ‘dressing up’ volunteers from the audience in appropriate but outrageously mismatched sun protection gear.

Alex, thanks for your support, passion and for making volunteering a fun experience.




Star Volunteer, November 2015, Otto Zeckendorf

IMG_20151110_130716Otto has been volunteering in the Finance Department since 2003.

He looks after the banking control from Cancer Council shops, banking bags from Relay for Life, control of the Health Brochures movement and one-off investigations.

Otto chose to volunteer at Cancer Council as he believes a good cause deserves whole-hearted support, and that’s definitely what he gives.

Otto is too modest about his contribution, but does say he’s particularly proud of ‘keeping other volunteers on the straight and narrow’


Our Star Volunteer in October 2015 is Irene Eves

Irene EvesIrene has been volunteering for over five years and coordinates the resources for the Erina office and out in the Central Coast community.

Irene also leads a sewing group to sew head wear for chemotherapy patients.

Irene enjoys being part of a caring and committed team, working even in a small way to decrease the occurrence and impact of cancer through prevention, treatment and research.

Irene has been a Star Trek fan since the 1960’s.


Our Star Volunteer, September 2015, is Kathy-Lee Holmes

Kathy_DaffodilDay2014Kathy has been volunteering with Cancer Council NSW for over 3 years. She has assisted in co-ordinating Evaluation sessions for Healthy Lunch Box strategy in 2015 and has delivered over 25 sessions for the program.

Kathy has also volunteered at Daffodil Day. She has intense passion for preventative health and aspires to be involved in the area of public health.

Kathy enjoys being involved in assisting parents to make beneficial changes to their family’s fruit and vegetable intake in attempt to reduce their long term risk of chronic disease including cancer.


Star Volunteer for August 2015, Gail Curtis 

IMG_5969In her two years with Cancer Council NSW, Gail has helped the Mingara Relay for Life Committee improve the way they recruit and manage on the day volunteers.

Gail works with Wyong Shire Council and has also engaged her colleagues in Relay for Life.  Last year, she has helped raise over $10,000.

Gail enjoys volunteering with a passionate group of people who are willing to give up their time to support a great cause. Gail also loves travelling.


Star Volunteer in June 2015 is Katrina Schofield

katrinaKatrina is a Committee Member for relay for life Hawkesbury. She has been volunteering with Cancer Council for over 10 years.

Katrina is a long serving member of the Hawkesbury Relay for Life Committee and has secured multiple promotional opportunities in recent months and is a driving force for team fundraising.

She likes going on cruises with her family and friends.


Our Star Volunteer for May 2015 is Christo Crous

Christo CrousChristo is volunteering at Cancer Council as part of his internship. He likes meeting new people from different backgrounds and working together with them towards a shared goal.

Christo conducts research into demographics and cancer case trends in the Southern region and its community areas. After spending many days analysing results data, Christo compiled reports for the Community Engagement Survey 2014 providing vital community insight for many divisions of CCNSW.

Christo is originally from South Africa and played rugby from the age of six and continues to play even today. At the age of thirteen, Christo developed interest towards art and quit rugby for a year to create a piece of artwork which won him a gold award in a national schools competition.


Star Volunteer in April 2015 is Nerida Dean

Nerida DeanNerida readily admits to loving variety in her life and this is epitomised by the many volunteer roles she has. Nerida is a community speaker, an MP Liaison representative and a CanAct advocate. In addition she delivers the Eat It To Beat It programme to schools, is on the Tweed Relay for Life Committee, is the Kingscliff Daffodil Day Stall Co-ordinator, a Pink fund raiser and a VIP Biggest Morning Tea host!

Nerida was drawn to Cancer Council NSWbecause she believes in their message. One of the most exciting roles for her has been participating in the 5 veg / 2 fruit initiative for children.


Star Volunteer, March 2015, Kurt Sengul

Kurt SengulKurt is the Communications Assistant, Hunter and Central Coast region, tasked with improving communication of the Eat It To Beat It (EITBI) program. He assists by leading the social media strategy, creating content for blog pages, gaining media attention for the program and promoting the importance of eating fruit and vegetables.

One of his most memorable occasions was attending a Healthy Lunch Box session, which targets parents of children starting Kindergarten and emphasises the importance of packing fruit and veg in the lunch box every day.

To relax, Kurt plays golf and tennis, but modestly maintains that he is not great at either.


Star Volunteer for February 2015 is Barbara Mottram

Barbara MottramBarbara started as a volunteer in 2008 when she participated in the Canada Bay Relay For Life (RFL), and quickly progressed to co-chair of the Canada Bay RFL in 2009 and 2010, and North Shore RFL in 2012 and 2013.

As Barbara’s background is in event management, RFL seemed a “good fit” for her skills. Since then, Barbara has progressed to general advocacy on behalf of Cancer Council NSW, becoming a MP Liaison representative.

Barbara is also an active member of the Northern Suburbs Cancer Action Network (CAN), and an active participant in the Saving Life 2015 campaign, currently working on the 12 February Hornsby launch.

Barbara’s great adventure in her 20’s, when she went on a 3-month bus trip from London to Kathmandu, taught her the importance of personal relationships and caring for one another.




Our Star Volunteer in November 2014 is Donna Banks

donna-banks-star-volunteer-nov2014Donna has been with Cancer Council’s Southern Region for three years, volunteers in their Accounts Payable area, and does Reception one day a week.  Recently Donna has also taken on the role of Southern Community Speakers Coordinator, which involves arranging the attendance of volunteer Community Speakers for local community groups.

When Donna moved from New Zealand in 2006 she chose to volunteer with Cancer Council NSW to help her settle in, make friends and become part of the community. She feels that Cancer Council NSW has very satisfactorily fulfilled that role.

As an “ex-Kiwi”, Donna is a huge rugby fan and cannot wait for the World Cup next year!


Our Star Volunteer for October 2014, Lorraine Breust

Lorraine-Breust-photo-October-2014As the current Chairperson of the Lower Clarence Relay For Life Committee, Lorraine liaises with many stakeholders in preparation for the March 2015 event. 

Lorraine also gives presentations on behalf of Cancer Council NSW to school groups and sporting organisations.

In the 1990’s, Lorraine was seconded to the World Health Organisation, and has represented the Australian Government at the 1994 UN Population and Development programme of action.


Star Volunteer, September 2014, meet Tony Breinl

Tony BTony has been a volunteer for six years as both a Community Speaker and as a member of an Advocacy Group in the Lane Cove area.

Most of his time is spent presenting to community groups, informing people about how to live with cancer and how to reduce their cancer risk.

He particularly enjoys talking to multicultural groups and bringing together people from different cultural backgrounds. Tony speaks some Arabic, and has undertaken a project researching medical institutions for Islamic communities in NSW.


Our Star Volunteer for August 2014 is Kim Verwey

Kim Verwey - Star VolunteerWhen the Cancer Council NSW Information Centre opened at Gosford Hospital 12 months ago, Kim was there from the beginning, looking after volunteer rosters.

Kim receives a lot of satisfaction helping those affected by cancer, and also enjoys the interaction with the other volunteers.

When not volunteering, Kim runs her father’s business in Australia while he is based in Europe.

Kim, very much a family-oriented person, between working and volunteering, spends time with her three children who are into netball, Cubs/Scouts, and Little Athletics.


Star Volunteer for July 2014, Cath Austin

Cath Austin

Cath has been a facilitator for Eat It To Beat It in the Hunter-Central Coast region for the past five years.

Her work involves facilitating sessions about healthy eating for parents of primary school-aged children.

As a retired dietitian and adult educator, the facilitator role is a natural fit. Cath has been very active in many volunteer rolls across Cancer Council NSW, including SunSmart, Aboriginal Engagement, and Oncology Outpatient Research.

In addition, she is a trained Advocate, and provides leadership for new volunteers.

Cath believes that Cancer Council NSW recognises volunteers as an integral part of their workforce, and feels comfortable with the various roles she has undertaken.


Star Volunteer, June 2014, is Michele Hutchen


michele.a.hutchenSince 2007, Michele has been a key member of the Sutherland Shire Relay For Life Committee. Michele manages the registration of over 3,000 people who participate in the Relay. It is one of the biggest Relays in the state.

Michele is passionate about the Relay and strives to ensure the Shire event continues to be a benchmark for all Relays in the country.

When not involved in RFL Committee tasks, Michele works as a Mortgage Broker and keeps healthy and fit by swimming and cycling.


Star Volunteer, May 2014, meet Graeme Shakespeare

Graeme Shakespeare

Graeme is easily recognised because he is always smiling!

He is dedicated to raising awareness of cancer, and is a strong advocate of the support programs provided by Cancer Council NSW.

Among other things, he has been a proud Committee Member for Blacktown Relay For Life since early 2010, and also participated in the making of a Supportalk video to help raise awareness of Cancer Council NSW’s peer support programs.

His passion is to help create a cancer-free world.


Our Star Volunteer for April 2014 is Carol Rhodes

Carol Rhodes April 2014

Carol has been a volunteer since 2008, and is currently helping the Cancer Survivorship Unit, capturing the relevant data for creating statistics and reports.

Carol is also a facilitator for the Living Well After Cancer programme, and receives great satisfaction when attendees realise they are not alone. This experience she calls a “light bulb moment”, which occurs during her presentations for cancer survivors and their carers.

When not volunteering at Cancer Council NSW, Carol works in corporate compliance for a financial institution, and is studying for a Bachelor of Applied Social Sciences.


Our Star Volunteer for March 2014 is Victoria Smith

Victoria Smith

‘Tori’ started her role as Lead Community Engagement Volunteer in September 2013, and in five months has achieved extraordinary results for the Northern NSW region.

With a Doctorate in Organisational Psychology, Tori has been able to provide expert guidance on researching tertiary institutions and their potential to engage with Cancer Council NSW through student placements, with phenomenal results.

All three Northern NSW offices have benefited from an influx of student placements for 2014.

Tori is a strong believer in Cancer Council NSW’s mission, and truly believes in the power of encouraging people and organisations to work together to achieve socially beneficial outcomes.


Star Volunteer, February 2014, meet Rebecca Hammond

Photo of becRebecca volunteers as a Nutrition Assistant, collecting and collating data for important research projects, and helping to create fact sheets for the “Eat It To Beat It” programme.

Her enthusiasm for any task is legendary, from serving breakfasts to cleaning data.  

Rebecca has seen the detrimental effects cancer has on families, and from a young age has wanted to help  Cancer Council NSW in our mission to defeat cancer.

Rebecca dreams of learning to ride a motor bike, but is wary of potential injuries she may suffer! 



Star Volunteer for January 2014 is Anne Blair

Anne BlairAnne has most commonly been called a Star for her role at the Cancer Council NSW Information Centre (CCIC) at St George Hospital, where she provides information and support services to cancer patients and their families.

In addition, Anne is responsible for coordinating the rosters for 18 volunteer staff. When not at the CCIC, Anne spends her time volunteering at Calvary Hospital, Kogarah, in the palliative care area, catching up with friends over coffee, walking by the beach, and doing yoga, something which she is passionate about.

Many thanks to Anne for her dedication and passion for the cancer cause.




In December 2013, our Star Volunteer is James Butler

James Butler Star Volunteer December 2013

James has been a volunteer for about 18 years, and is most proud of his work for the Western Sydney Cancer Advocacy Network, where he is an active member of the State Wide RFL Advisory and Development Team.

Recently, James was selected by the American Cancer Society as a Global Relay for Life Hero of Hope.

He is also on the Consumer Research Panel for Cancer Council NSW.

He supports Cancer Council NSW’s programmes which help cancer patients and families from diagnosis through to remission, and supports their investment in cancer research.  James feels personally rewarded when he sees the results of the work he is involved in.

James spends any spare time away from Cancer Council NSW running his own business, keeping fit by swimming or jogging, and spoiling his wife!


Our Star Volunteer in November 2013 is Lauren Crean

Lauren Crean Star Volunteer November 2013Lauren Crean’s Cancer Council NSW volunteer journey began as a three month requirement for the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, but she has continued to make a valuable contribution to the Orange office well after the requirement has been fulfilled.

Lauren is currently assisting with preparation for Relay For Life events.

Her most exciting project was making paper daffodils for the Daffodil Day ‘Field of Hope’ at The Dish in Parkes.

She enjoys the friendly office atmosphere and raising funds for cancer patients. Outside of volunteering, she is learning Karate.


Star Volunteer for October 2013 is Kamal Hadid

Kamal Hadid - Star Volunteer for OctoberKamal Hadid is a very hard working volunteer from the Greater Western Sydney region.

Her various jobs include Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea committee member, community speaker, representing Cancer Council NSW on community radio, and volunteering at Liverpool Hospital’s Cancer Council Information Centre.

Kamal strives to be a positive role model in the community, and to promote a positive outlook. She is passionate about increasing awareness of cancer and empowering people to be fighters not victims. 

When Kamal is not volunteering, she is busy looking after her family and learning new computers skills.


Star Volunteer for September 2013, Anita Nolan

Anita Nolan 2For the past 16 years Anite has fundraised for Daffodil Day, Australia Biggest Morning Tea, and more recently Pink Ribbon Day in the Riverina Town of Deniliquin.

She is a proud Fundraising VIP for the South West region, and has risen to the position of Deniliquin Fundraising Team Leader.

Anita began volunteering in memory of her sister who succumbed to cancer in 1996. She hopes that her efforts will contribute to the eventual solving of cancer causes.

Although not a keen diver, Anita cave dived in Fiji without the use of a snorkel or tank.


Star Volunteer, August 2013, meet Keith Anderson

Keith AndersonKeith Anderson started his volunteer journey after being diagnosed with prostrate cancer four years ago.

Whilst coming to terms with his diagnosis, he answered a Community Speaker Program volunteer recruitment advertisement in his local paper. This led to Keith providing information sessions to groups and assisting with stalls at local events.

Keith has also been involved in promoting the SunSmart Program to primary schools on the Mid North Coast NSW, helping to sign up 30 schools! He provides cancer information, and now trains others in advocacy for CanAct.

A fun fact about Keith, in 1990 he learned to fly light planes. He and his wife have spent many hours exploring Australia by air and road.


Our Star Volunteer for July 2013 is Shant Avakian

Shant-Avakian-July-e1372378933601Shant Avakian has volunteered at Cancer Council NSW for 12 years.

He is an integral part of the Cancer Information and Support Services, supporting programs across the whole Division. For seven years he has returned calls to families, carers and people experiencing cancer, providing them with a vital listening ear and referral through the Helpline Callback Program.

Shant has worked with the Cancer Support Group Leader Program for the last four years, where he assists in the updating of 295 state-wide cancer support group information, and the roll out of our leader training programs.

He is a much loved honorary member of the Survivorship team, making Living Well After Cancer calls Tuesdays and Thursdays, and contributes a great jocularity during that.

Outside the walls of Dowling Street, he loves his family, sport, and is currently attempting to learn how to play golf.


Star Volunteer, June 2013, is Andrew Horne

Andrew-HorneThe award goes to Andrew Horne in recognition of his commitment to the Southern Relay for Life Team, and the Cancer Council on Campus Club at the University of Wollongong.

He began his Cancer Council journey as a Cobar Relay for Life 2008 participant, where temperatures dropped to -5 degrees during the course of the event!  His mother’s breast cancer diagnosis further increased his interest and passion for Cancer Council.

Andrew supports the Southern Relay for Life Team in roles ranging from admin support to the Illawarra RFL Team Development Coordinator.

As Chair of the Cancer Council on Campus Club, he works with an executive team of 10 and over 180 members. A country boy at heart, every Easter he stewards sheep in the merino sheep and fleece section of the Sydney Royal Easter Show.


Our Star Volunteer for May 2013 is Alison Todd

Alison ToddThis award goes to Alison in recognition of the quality and longevity of her service with Cancer Council NSW.

Alison’s journey began 23 years ago selling daffodils. Since then she has volunteered as a Relay for Life Fight Back team member; community speaker; MP Liaison; Cancer Advocacy Network member; Eat It To Beat It presenter; and advocacy advisory committee member, amongst many other roles.

When called upon to do so, she has also been known to don the Sid the Seagull costume.

Alison’s initial motivation was the passing of her husband to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and she has found strength in the courage and resilience of the people she has met during her time at Cancer Council NSW.

Alison is a former hospitality teacher, with a passion for preparing well-balanced meals. She has three daughters, four grandchildren, and countless fans at Cancer Council NSW.


Our Star Volunteer in April 2013 is Ben Woolley

ben's picBen is the first recipient of this Award for his tireless effort and dedication as Chairperson of Relay for Life – Cessnock. Ben has been a key figure in organising the event after losing his Nan to cancer four years ago.

His two main drives are seeing the happy faces of Cancer survivors and their Carers over the course of the Relay weekend, and the dedication of his fellow Relay for Life volunteers.

When he is not working as a Civil Construction Supervisor and being a father to two amazing girls, he enjoys Scuba diving.