Disability advocate wins major award
She may live in a retirement village, but Helen Bawden OAM hasn’t fully retired just yet.
The Carinity Brownesholme resident is a dedicated volunteer whose community work has been recognised with a prestigious award.
The disability advocate was presented the Judy Antonio Memorial Award at the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Disability Awards.
Winning the award, which is presented to the business, group or individual that represents the values of social inclusion, was a “total surprise” for Helen.
“I am very humbled, proud and so very honoured,” she said.
“I have no idea who nominated me. Obviously, whoever it was must be aware of what I have been involved in over the years, and what I am still doing, and thought I deserved it.”
The award recognises Helen’s volunteer work for organisations in Oakey and the Darling Downs over decades, including the Oakey Community Care Committee and Toowoomba Regional Council’s Regional Access and Disability Advisory Committee.
Helen also cares for her husband Barry, who acquired a brain injury 35 years ago.
“I think it is so important to support others in the community. There are so many with disabilities who need support and who are too proud to own up to it,” Helen said.
“I like to think that by being involved I can help others who need help, or don’t know how to get help.
“Physically I need help myself now, but mentally I am able to be an asset in the community and help.”
Helen is still involved with several local organisations, although she has scaled down her commitments since moving to her Highfields retirement community.
“I have got it down to three groups now since moving to Brownesholme,” she said.
In 2011, Helen was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honors list, in recognition of her service to her community.