AS AN eight-year-old, Leslie Williams went out, tin in hand, collecting money for his local surf lifesaving club.
This early fundraising effort was the start of the Glenorchy man’s six-decade- long dedication to helping others.
Now the 68-year-old from Derwent Park has been named the 2018 Premier’s Volunteer of the Year.
For the past 40 years, former fire-fighter and transport worker Leslie has given his time to the Huntington’s Disease Association of Tasmania, supporting families and raising awareness.
“My grandmother, father, uncles and other members of my family were all affected by the disease,” Leslie told The Senior.
Huntington’s is a devastating genetic neurodegenerative disease. About 100 people in Tasmania have the condition.
“It’s not nice to see your loved ones deteriorate over such a long period of time and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Leslie said.
Representing the organisation across all levels of government, internationally and in Tasmania, Leslie is a passionate advocate, delivering talks and raising funds to support the small not-for-profit organisation.
“I get great satisfaction from helping others and am very honoured to receive this award, but it was also a team effort,” he said, acknowledging the support of his association colleagues and his wife Lucy.
Leslie, who was one of 27 finalists, was described on the night as someone who leads by example and a “role model to all who know him”.
“There is no doubt that Les is an amazing human and an incredibly worthy winner of the Premier’s Volunteer of the Year Award, but in the spirit of this year’s National Volunteer Week theme – Give a Little. Change a Lot – I want to remind every volunteer that their contribution, big or small, is significant,” said Volunteering Tasmania chief executive Alison Lai.
Other finalists included Burnie Surf Life Saving Club co-ordinator Shane Askew, Australian Wooden Boat Festival volunteer co-ordinator Liz Lord, Glengarry Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Rodney McLean, wildlife carer Norma Baker, Glenorchy tutor Fiona Armstrong and Exeter Show Society president Trevor Clark.
Hydro Tasmania and the Launceston RSL Sub Branch Australian Defence Force Welfare Team were team award recipients.