Beach Patrol 3280-3284 leader Colleen Hughson has been rewarded for the countless hours she has spent cleaning up the region's beaches.
Ms Hughson is Warrnambool City Council's Australia Day citizen of the year. She also won the 2019 Warrnambool Australia Day Awards local achiever.
Growing up in South Warrnambool, for the past four years she has made beach combing her lifestyle in between working as a self-employed video producer. "I go out on the beach four or five times a week finding and picking up interesting things," she said. "I'm an advocate for making a change and decreasing the rubbish on the beach."
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Ms Hughson said some of the interesting things she had found during clean-ups included fish tags from Antarctica, George Island and the Patagonia region, a sex toy and a marine buoy from a German university normally located 6000 metres below sea level.
"The thing I'm obsessed with at the moment is all the foreign drink bottles that are washing up," she said. Ms Hughson said she was surprised to receive another award from the council.
"Last time people said they'd put me forward, but this time when I got the call I was surprised as it was out of the blue and not expected at all," she said. "I'm not getting the award for myself but on behalf of the beach patrol which recognises the work of the whole group.
"There's a lot of volunteers cleaning up the beaches that many people wouldn't understand are doing it." Ms Hughson said it was an honour to be recognised for something she enjoyed and was passionate about.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about the issue of marine litter along our coastline and I also see it as an opportunity to thank all the volunteers that are part of Beach Patrol," she said.
Ms Hughson acknowledged her husband Luke Foster's support and child Fred, and the work of the group's other leader, Mandy Shute. Since 2017, Ms Hughson has led the Beach Patrol 3280-3284 Group, including school groups and volunteers in around 1500 clean-ups, including 500 alone at Shelly Beach, also training people to record clean-ups on an app.
She was also instrumental in the ban of plastic-stemmed cotton buds in Victoria and New South Wales (27,000 cotton buds have been collected). The Better Buds campaign won a 2021 Tidy Towns Keep Victoria Beautiful Award.
She will receive her award alongside Local Achiever Award winner Garry Price and Warrnambool Event of the Year winners TEDxWarrnambool at an Australia Day ceremony at the Civic Green.
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