2015 Mother of the Year Awards
In just a few weeks, Barnardos Australia – a national charity committed to child protection – will announce its winner for the 2015 Mother of the Year Award. 

The Award is the largest and most recognised campaign celebrating the role of Australian mums, who have been nominated by local community and family members. Three finalists share their stories. 

A pillar of strength

Kathleen Aspey, 61, from Waratah, NSW, tragically lost her daughter, Michelle, to cystic fibrosis when she was just 12 years old. 

While trying to overcome her own grief, she became a pillar of strength to her son, Ben, who also lives with cystic fibrosis, and her husband, who is currently experiencing declining health problems.Ben says he nominated his mum because she sacrificed so much for her family. 

“She has stayed with her kids through countless hours at hospitals then pushes through sleep deprivation to go to work the next day,” Ben said. “She never complains and never asks for a thing in return.”

Kathleen-Aspey

Pictured above: Kathleen Aspey

Leading by example

Margaret Purcell, 59, from Warilla, NSW, is the founder of The DENNY Foundation – a support network that she created in memory of her son, Denny, for young people struggling with mental health issues. Margaret’s daughter, Lauren, 31, says her mum leads by example. 

“Christmas Day is spent throwing a party for those with nowhere else to go – on Mum’s watch everyone will always have family to celebrate Christmas with,” Lauren said.

“There are nights when she does not sleep because the local police have called her out to assist with a teen known to her that they have taken into custody. 

“She leads the way by example and so too has been an example to me in my own journey as a mother.”

Margaret-Purcell

Pictured above: Margaret Purcell

‘Supernanny’ with a huge heart

Halimah Haakmeester nominated her mother, Zarina, 51, for being a “supernanny with a huge heart”.  

“Ever since I can remember, Mum has opened up her home to other children, Halimah said. “My mother has never been able to turn away from a child that needs her.”

The mother of two from Palmerston, NT, has been looking after children in need for the past few decades, and currently has two foster children in her care.

“The professionalism she has with raising child after child is almost supernanny-like, except that Mum takes the care of each child to the next level,” she said. “She will see it through so that they continue to prosper and develop with all the tools and love to grow into successful adults.”

Zarina-Haakmeester

Pictured above: Zarina

State and territory finalists are announced throughout April, and the winners are revealed on May 7, 2015 at the Barnardos Mother of the Year 20th Anniversary National Luncheon held in Sydney, NSW.

The judging panel comprises various ambassadors and supporters, including Woman’s Day editor Fiona Connolly, actor Dennis Coard, NSW Premier’s wife Kerryn Baird, fashion designer Leona Edmiston, Doltone House CEO Anna Cesarano, Sydney Polo Club CEO Rebecca Higgins, and Diabetic Living managing editor Mara Lee.  

For more information about Barnardos Australia or to donate, visit Barnados.

Image source: Barnados