Public health physician, Dr David Durrheim, has been named the 2022 Lake Mac Ambassador for his outstanding efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr David Durrheim pictured with Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser. Photo source: Lake Macquarie City.

The Lake Mac Awards are held annually by the Lake Macquarie City council, recognising the city’s high achievers in sport, volunteering and the community.

Dr David Durrheim is a Conjoint Professor of Public Health Medicine at the University of Newcastle and the Director of Health Protection at Hunter New England Health.

His work in developing novel surveillance systems to detect and facilitate response to emerging infectious disease risks has been instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lake Macquarie Mayor, Kay Fraser, said Dr Durrheim was a more-than-worthy winner.

“Dr Durrheim’s presence throughout the pandemic – his level-headed advice, consistent messaging and heartfelt pleas for people to take precautions – undoubtedly helped minimise the impact of COVID over the past two years,” she said.

“More generally, he has been a leading light in promoting public health both in Australia and internationally for many years, driving towards a world with more equitable and accessible public health services for everyone.

“He’s a true pillar of our community and an inspiration for us all. He will be a wonderful ambassador for our city.”

Dr Durrheim, who described himself as “a rusted-on Lake Mac local”, said he was humbled and honoured to take the night’s top prize.

“As a community, we’ve tackled this colossal challenge of COVID together,” he said.

“Sometimes my focus has been very health-focused, but seeing how people across the spectrum have muscled in and made their contribution is really inspiring – it’s something that has got my heart very warm.”

Dr Durrheim was among a raft of local winners across 13 categories.

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series five-time World Champion, Rhiannan Iffland, was named Sports Star of the Year, and former World Champion trampoline gymnast, Brett Austine, won Lake Mac Sports Leader.

After qualifying in nationals for the past two years, swimmer, Victoria Robinson, was named the Lake Mac Sports Star With Disability.

Whitebridge 11-year-old, Xavier Neil, became one of the city’s youngest-ever to win the Young Citizen of the Year for his incredible work raising more than $70,000 for cancer charities.

OzHarvest volunteer, June Butler, took out the Volunteer of the Year category for her work teaching life skills to at-risk young people and for helping to prepare thousands of food hampers and hot meals for distribution across the Hunter Region.

Lake Mac charity, Hope in a Suitcase, was named Community Group of the Year for its work supporting children in the foster care system.

Cr Fraser congratulated this year’s 90 plus nominees, finalists and winners.

“Each year, I’m struck by the diversity of people and organisations doing amazing things in our city,” she said.

“To all of our nominees, category finalists and winners, I want to say thank you on behalf of all of Lake Macquarie.

“You help make our city what it is today,” Cr Fraser said.

Maia O’Connor

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