COMMUNITY RECOGNITION STATEMENT - Maitland's Citizen of the Year, Dr Helen Tolhurst

Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland)—Congratulations to Dr Helen Tolhurst who has been crowned Maitland's 2020 Citizen of the Year. Helen is a former general practitioner who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2019. Parkinson's is a neurological condition that affects about 40,000 Australians. No drug can prevent its progression, and no two people who live with the disease will experience the same thing. Helen quickly recognised the importance of connecting those who live with the disease. It was through her efforts that the Maitland Parkinson's Support Group was born.

During the pandemic, Helen transitioned group members to an online platform so engagement could continue. At a time of great isolation and uncertainty, this link became a lifeline. Helen is a moderator of the national Parkinson's Disease online community and is an awareness advocate who has appeared in many local media stories. A keen artist, Helen also organised an art sale which procured more than $2000 for the Maitland Parkinson's Support Group.

Thank you, Helen, for your work to improve the way we support and understand the challenges faced by people who live with Parkinson's Disease, not just locally but across our nation. Congratulations again on your award.