Each year the Mardi Gras Awards honour and thank the extraordinary community groups and volunteers who go above and beyond to help deliver our world-renowned and inspiring festival.
Mardi Gras just couldn’t happen without over 1,700 hardworking and talented volunteers. So many of our volunteers return year after year. Some of their contributions span over a decade or more.
For 2020, because we cannot all meet together for the Mardi Gras Awards, and because so many of our volunteers went above and beyond in outstanding ways, we’ve decided to give out TWO Awards in each category.
Here are the winners of the Mardi Gras VOLUNTEERS Awards for 2020, including a few words from the many people who nominated them.
Awards For Excellence in Innovation
WINNER: Joel McKinnon
Joel McKinnon has been volunteering for over 13 years and is an outstanding member of the Mardi Gras family. His commitment, passion and personal excellence sees him lead from strength to strength each year. He is always caring for others, has a fabulous sense of humour in trying times and is a pleasure to work with. Joel really went above and beyond in so many ways with so many events for the Mardi Gras Season this year, giving generously of his time, energy and spirit. He’s long-term volunteer who really cares about what Mardi Gras is trying to achieve and delivers to the highest standards. Nothing is too much trouble. Joel is an outstanding member of the Mardi Gras volunteer family and has been for many years.
WINNER: Katherine Hudson
Katherine Hudson was appointed the role of general stalls coordinator, knowing how much work was involved and still wanted to help the organisation. Katherine worked full-time for weeks and dealt with some very difficult situations without it getting to her. Katherine is a very diplomatic, smart and caring volunteer that always has other volunteers and the organisation at the front of her mind whilst multitasking hundreds of stall organisers. Despite having multiple tasks to complete, Katherine was also always bringing baked goods for the team, showing a true dedication and care to the organisation and our people.
Both Katherine and Joel used their powers combined to change Fair Day stall placements in a way that was time efficient, cost effective and also made the layout of the park more pleasing to the guests and stall holders. They helped roll out the stall system and were very hands on when communicating with stall organisers. They were always first to jump in when anyone needed any assistance and super helpful every day, truly dedicated and passionate volunteers.
Awards for Excellence in Service
WINNER: Edie Falios
Edie Falios is an integral part of the queer culture and Mardi Gras Community. This year Edie dedicated himself whole heartedly to Season 42 with not only his commitment to the Party Show but by also sharing his Parade costume expertise. His personal connection with the late Ron Muncaster saw him to commit to a season in the Workshop working on the preservation of Ron’s costumes. This was done every day up until the doors of the workshop closed. Year after year Edie dedicates so much to Mardi Gras. It is always an absolute pleasure to have someone so cheerful, dedicated and talented assisting in the Workshop. Seeing Edie’s commitment to lovingly repairing the Ron Muncaster Costumes was incredibly moving and special. We think Edie would have made Ron Muncaster very happy. Thank you so much Edie, for all your time and energy.
WINNER: Warren Bishop
Warren Bishop has been the Operations Coordinator for three years and been volunteering in the operations team for years before his appointment. He is an amazing leader of the Operations team every year and brings the entire team together for a flawless operations night. Warren is fantastic in delegating roles to every team member to help them feel needed and part of the experience. He is always ensuring everyone knows what they need to be doing on the night and is always there to help anyone in need. He is a thoughtful, dedicated volunteer and will do absolutely anything for the organisation. He is always there to help not only at Parade but various other events.
Awards For Excellence in Leadership
WINNER: Rick Stone
Rick Stone was this year’s Parade medical team coordinator. He worked directly with Mardi Gras staff, Police, NSW health, NSW Fire, NSW Ambulance and did so with absolute professionalism and passion. Rick is a highly experienced emergency manager and training specialist – he specialises in risk, crisis and emergency management and developed all the plans for medical. He has natural leadership qualities and is always there to help anyone on the medical team no matter what level they may be at. He not only coordinated all the medical volunteers on parade, he worked on other events with the medical team whilst still having a full-time job. He also designed and got all the medical uniforms and kit bags ready for our medical volunteers. Rick is cool, thoughtful, well planned, calm under pressure, a leader in a time of crisis and is logical in decision making. Rick is an absolute asset to the organisation not only for his profession experience and donating his time to Mardi Gras but he is also a caring, passionate, fun loving guy that will do anything to help anyone in need.
WINNER: Kim Williams
Kim Williams is the media team coordinator for Parade and has been so for many years now. She’s always smiling and making sure the media team are absolutely loaded up with all the knowledge ready for a very interesting night ahead. She is very organised and committed to looking after her team. Kim works directly with our staff and is always coming up with great solutions to any issues that arise. Kim is always first to help anyone out when they are in need and even when she is multitasking the media on Parade (which can be very tricky at times) she will always do anything to help out a team member or media. She is fun, dedicated and her leadership skills truly show when Parade kicks in and her entire team has a great experience. Kim’s team have upmost respect for her and are always wanting to do anything to help her out and that shows true leadership.
Awards For Excellence in Teamwork
WINNER: Charlie Steele
Charlie Steele is a serial achiever! Returning to End Area on Parade Day again and again for many years. In that time, she has developed an innate understanding of how to motivate her team. She projects authority and/or acts with compassion as each situation requires.
WINNER: Ron Boyd
Ron Boyd is a friendly, helpful, beautiful soul. He is a team player and goes over and above to help his teams. Ron is happy to lead by example and has an eye for detail. Ron was integral in designing the medical treatment sheet recommended by NSW Heath as gold standard. Ron has excellent planning skills and is fantastic at organising his teams. He is great at inducting volunteers into the medical team and is always there to help anyone out. He is a truly wonderful, thoughtful volunteer who is an integral part of our medical team.
WINNER: Ronald Del Castillo
Ronald Del Castillo volunteers on multiple events throughout the season and brings his fabulous energy to every role. You will often see Ronald at Kaftan Party welcoming guests in one of many fantastic kaftans and loud sunglasses. Ronald also worked on bump in at Fair Day this year, he assisted stallholders in locating their stalls and even when things got busy, he still did it with a smile on his face. Ronald was a great representative of Mardi Gras and kept stallholders calm while working out where their stall location was, remaining positive, polite and reassuring. He is also always making other volunteers feel welcome.
WINNER: Sharniya (Rina) J Hind
Sharniya (Rina) J Hind is extremely friendly, supportive, empathetic to audience and made other volunteers who were anxious feel at ease. Rina is always there to help others out and is always making sure other volunteers on her team are welcome. She loves the Parade route and wants to make sure her other team members have the best experience whilst in the hustle and bustle of the busy night.
WINNER: Adrian Hinder
Adrian Hinder has been a long-term volunteer for Mardi Gras since 2009 and has been involved with the Parade Community Development Team. He has always been passionate in supporting our community to ensure that all our diverse participants have their platform and experience the amazing sense of belonging and fun that the Parade brings. He has dedicated so much time and love to the organisation, as well as been a strong, supportive leader of his team. Thank you for all your hard work!
WINNER: Konstantinos Ziotas
Konstantinos Ziotas is the Fair Day Fundraising coordinator and does it with such passion. He gives is time each year to help the organisation run the only fundraising event we have, and each year helps to collect more and more donations that helps run our festival. This is not an easy job and has many hurdles on the day. His team love him, and he is always the first one to respond to any issues that may arise at the front gates. He supports his team members and ensures everyone has a great day!
Volunteers Of The Year
WINNER: Aiden O'Dea
Aiden O’Dea stepped up and took on the role of AC for Entrants for the first time at a crucial time and gave it a fresh coat of paint. He went above and beyond in planning, gathering feedback from volunteers/staff about what did and didn’t work in previous years so he could find solutions. Aiden asked a lot of questions to make sure he understood his role and could then subsequently brief and communicate with this team properly, which he did in both the lead-up and on event day. His attention to detail for planning and communication, as well as his team selection, ensured that the team was highly successful in the accuracy and timing of delivery. His level of collaboration and kindness working with everyone was exactly what we would expect of someone representing Mardi Gras. Aiden absolutely gave it his all and supported the volunteer teams new and returning. Aiden’s initiative, dedication, passion and hard work makes him a great example of what a leader within our volunteer parade community should be. He was a delight to work with the whole way through.
WINNER: Sarah Pearce
Sarah Pearce has been volunteering for over 12 years at Mardi Gras. She is often seen running up and down the Parade route with a very serious face trying to solve all the issues we cannot get to! Sarah runs the response team on Parade every year and is quick to solve any issue on Parade whether it be a float breaking down or crowd issues. Sarah works directly with the Police, security, ambulance, the Mardi Gras staff, our volunteer medical teams, our community float organisers, our volunteer coordinators and all their teams on parade and our community that are there to enjoy the Parade. She is there to ensure everyone is OK and safe, and does it every year. Sarah has been on working groups, has helped across the festival in Response team, and knows more than most about the history of the organisation and how people have worked together. Sarah is one of the people you can count on to get the job done and has been an incredible asset to the organisation. She is a true Mardi Gras team member and we are all very lucky to have her on Parade to make sure each Parade runs smoothly. Sarah is an excellent leader who interacts positively with all her team and encourages everyone to do their best - even in difficult circumstances. She welcomes new members and is effective in briefing/training them to empower them to do their best! Sarah is an absolute legend!
Both Aiden and Sarah are always first to help out when needed and always have a smile on their faces. They embody the true spirit of a volunteer and give their everything to ensure our community and organisation have the best parade every single year.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE AWARD RECIPIENTS!
The winners will receive their Awards in the mail ASAP.