Local heroes

A NURSE who has helped improve the lives of hundreds of local sufferers of Parkinson’s disease and their carers was been named the 2014 Australia Day Citizen of the Year in a ceremony at Nowra Showground on Sunday morning.

Marilia Pereira is now in her fourth year of running the neurological nurse service which originally began as a pilot program.

She has 280 clients and their carers and drives 30,000 kilometres each year to see them, helping sufferers of the degenerative disease to stay in their own homes for longer.

In addition, Mrs Pereira uses her own time to educate doctors, health care professionals and staff at aged care facilities about the disease.

Winning the award will help Mrs Pereira to further raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease.

“I will be able to use it to spread the word about Parkinson’s and how we as a community can get together and support those who have it and their carers,” she said.

Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said Mrs Pereira was an exceptionally deserving recipient of the 2014 Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award saying her actions had provided immense comfort to the local community at a time of need.

“I would like to congratulate Mrs Pereira, on not only being named the 2014 Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award recipient but for her amazing work in the field of neurogenerative conditions,” said Cr Gash.

“Through her ongoing commitment, Mrs Pereira has helped ease the isolation, concerns and burden placed on the sufferers of Parkinson’s disease, their families and carers.

“Mrs Pereira has also received strong praise and thanks from local doctors, health care professionals and aged care facility staff for her continual education and community awareness programs.

“As well as giving talks to support groups and other neurogenerative disease seminars Mrs Pereira was recently invited to address a selected group of Parliamentarians at Parliament House.”

Mrs Pereira said what she loved about her work and was the ability to make a difference to people’s lives.

“If I can help someone have a quality of life with a challenging condition, it’s the most rewarding thing,” she said.

Other recipients of Australia Day Citizens Awards were Elicia Dearsley, Kyah Gray and Jamie Priestly.

Ms Dearsley was awarded the 2014 Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year Award for developing a calisthenics club in Berry and volunteering with the Berry Community Church.

Ms Gray, currently touring Europe as part of the Australian Open Women’s Indoor Hockey Team, won the 2014 Australia Day Sports Award.

Show jumper Ms Priestly has represented Australia in numerous competitions and won the 2014 Australia Day Junior Sports Award.

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