Long-time Helensburgh resident local Meikle Bennett has been named the Electorate of Heathcote Woman of the Year.
She’s been presented with the award by NSW Minister for Women Pru Goward, who congratulated Meikle for her years of hard work and her contribution and dedication to disadvantaged children in the community.
Meikle is a familiar face around town, having lived in Helensburgh for more than 50 years. She even attended Helensburgh Public School!
In fact, Meikle is a local icon, having been involved in the P&C, the swimming club and the soccer club, before joining the board of Southern Cross Kids.
“I grew up in a family where we learned to give back to the community, to volunteer,” says Meikle. “So I’ve always been a part of the organisations my kids were involved in. It’s just the Aussie way.”
It’s her heart for children that has set Meikle apart from the crowd.
A school teacher for 30 years, she’s spent the last 7 working at a school for troubled children in Loftus. “We have the kids for a two year window to help them transition to the mainstream,” she says. “I firmly believe there’s a good person inside every child. Some of these kids are just so broken. They come from terrible family situations, factors beyond their control, and that label and behaviour can stick with them. We try to bring back their hope and worth. If they see themselves as valued and worthy, they’ll be a much more valuable asset to society.”
Meanwhile, Meikle is also the Children and Community Pastor at Urban Life church in Menai, and on top of that, she helps organise the Southern Cross Kids camps at Stanwell Tops which are run to help kids that need a bit of extra support. “There are a lot of kids coming from unfortunate backgrounds. We give them alternatives. I am a Christian so I come from that perspective. I want to give them hope, then maybe they’ll give someone else hope and together we can change the world. It’s not rocket science!”
“And although Meikle knew she’d been nominated, she was shocked and surprised to have won!
“I’m so honoured,” she says. “It’s humbling to be recognised for what I really do out of love. I’m one of many people who do this sort of thing, and I love what I do.”
And Heathcote MP Lee Evans has labelled Meikle an ‘outstanding recipient’! “Meikle’s name crops up regularly in our office because she’s involved in so many things,” he says. “When we announced this award, Meikle was nominated a couple of times by different people. It’s hard to look past that. She’s a fantastic representative of the Electorate of Heathcote.”
Meikle will now attend a formal dinner at NSW Parliament House in Sydney on March 9 for the announcement of the NSW Woman of the Year.
Photo thanks to Chris Vermeer