Our reluctant community champion
THE title of Clarence Electorate Local Woman of the Year sits uncomfortably on the shoulders of Skye Sear.
"The point of discomfort is individual recognitions," the New School of Arts general manager said.
"That's not why we do what we do.
"I feel more inspired by the women I've got around me - standing in this room among them, they're my inspiration and more deserving of this kind of attention."
Yesterday, in the hall of their iconic building in South Grafton, Ms Sear was in the minority, with every person using words like "respect", "inspiration" and other plaudits when they spoke of her approach to her community-oriented work and fellow workers.
"Picking the Local Woman of the Year is always a tough choice given the enormous talent we have locally but Skye redefines the expression 'going above and beyond'," Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said after presenting the award.
"Skye's work ethic and achievements are incredible. She works tirelessly to make a difference for women, LGBTIQ, Aboriginal, mental health, community development, social justice, child protection, volunteering, social inclusion, health promotion, community governance, homelessness, suicide prevention, children's services and youth well-being issues.
"Being passionate about developing local social infrastructure, I have worked with and admired Skye throughout my time as an MP.
"Skye is a passionate advocate for social inclusion. She not only listens but works effectively and collaboratively to make things happen behind the scenes for the betterment of the community.
"She has taken a number of people under her wing, including the people who are nominating her for this award, which is as much for them as it is for her."
Ms Sear said over the years she had learned to put herself out there.
"I'm not very comfortable with it," she said.
"But you've got to push past the fear and achieve the things you set out to and that's something that I try to impress to my daughters.
"I think that there is a fear of failure and I think young women need to understand that it's OK. I mess more things up than I get right but you get to a point where you realise that's OK and you do what you can to fix it."
Ms Sear has been general manager of the community organisation for the past 12 years and says the nature of the work keeps her going.
"It gets you. Anyone that's ever been involved can explain that it sucks you in," she said.
"I like to look at the big picture. We're in this for family and community - and you have to do the hard stuff to get to the good stuff."