NSM celebrates big win! Founder Rachel Chappell nabs surprise award

Matt Kean MP announcing the Award winners
Matt Kean MP announcing the Award winners

We’re thrilled to announce that North Shore Mums (NSM) Founder, Rachel Chappell, was presented with the Hornsby Local Woman of the Year Award by Matt Kean, at a Community Christmas Party at his home in December. Here, she shares what the Award means to her… and what she’s learned from our community.

Early in December, I received a phone call from Matt Kean, inviting me to a Community Christmas Party that he was hosting at his home on a Sunday afternoon in December. He told me that it was very casual, that my family was also very welcome to come (and kids could even pack their swimmers if they wanted a dip!), and that he’d also be handing out a few awards. He seemed rather insistent that I should be there, so who was I to refuse such an invitation? Little did I know there was a HUGE surprise in store for me that afternoon!

So, despite the fact that the event was happening the day after my (belated) 40th birthday party, and my two eldest girls were performing in their final pantomime performance (I’d already seen the other three shows, so didn’t feel too guilty about missing this one!), I delegated hubby to taking our youngest daughter to watch the panto, and asked my Dad to be my ‘date’ for the party.

We arrived at Matt’s house and were directed down the side of the house to his back garden… to find around 150 people scattered across the lawn and patio.

Community Christmas Party at Matt Kean MP’s home

We were warmly greeted by Matt, and also chatted to other local politicians and councillors like Julian Leeser and Nathan Tilbury. After about an hour of mingling and chatting to lots of other interesting people in the community, Matt welcomed all the guests and shared his thoughts about what makes the Hornsby Shire such a wonderful place to live, before presenting some awards to some people in the community who have made a real difference.

Matt Kean MP announcing the Award winners

Then Matt had one final Award to give out… and when he started talking about the power of online communities in connecting and supporting local mums, I got the notion that my name was about to be called out. I had no idea it was coming, but was absolutely thrilled to be presented with the Award for the Hornsby Local Woman of the Year. Surprise! What an incredible honour.

Matt Kean on why he chose this honour for Rachel and NSM:

I asked Matt Kean for a written quote about why he chose me, and he said: ‘The best thing about the Hornsby is its people. People who go out of their way to help others. Who create that sense of community. Rachel has created a platform to support local mums and build community. In a short time they have over 30,000 members of the Facebook group and half a million comments a year from local Mums offering support, advice or help.’ Thank you, Matt!

Surprised and delighted, moments after receiving the Award

The real winners: Our community and our top posts!

Before I created North Shore Mums, there simply wasn’t any online communities or websites aimed at local parents – and I’m delighted to say that North Shore Mums has fundamentally transformed how local mums connect and discover all the wonderful attractions, events and services that exist on the North Shore for families.

It all started with our Facebook group, which I created almost seven years ago, purely for my own need to get local recommendations and advice… and the quick growth of the group showed that there were many other women who wanted to connect with other mums too.

Here are just a few quotes from our members about what North Shore Mums means to them:

  • ‘I love that there’s always someone out there with an answer! No matter how random your question might be, there’s always somebody else who’s been in your position before.’ – Alex.
  • ‘I am the grandmother of two boys ( 4 years and 1 year) who live with their father. I help when needed and try to give them a motherly role model. North Shore Mums has been my inspiration in so many ways with advice, ideas and support. It is especially a comfort to know there is a network of friends to turn to if needed.’ – Di, Turramurra
  • ‘The Beauty of North Shore Mums is the collection of amazing women who are willing to give their time to help other members of this wonderful community. As a parent of a young boy diagnosed with ADHD last year, I have read many posts on Doctors to see, medications others have had their child trial. I haven’t felt alone in the daily struggle of dealing with the monumental melt downs we have with my son. Thank you ladies for this amazing group’ – Alexandra, Mount Colah
  • ‘It has helped to know you are not alone especially when you are a first time Mum! And to feel that there is somewhere to go if you want to ask an awkward question or look to see if someone else has already asked the same question! It makes the journey a little less lonely – I read somewhere once that as a Mum you are forever lonely but never alone and I think North Shore Mums has helped me feel a little less lonely.’ – Joanna, Waitara
  • ‘If it wasn’t for North Shore Mums I would have found the journey into motherhood very lonely and isolating. From the long dark nights feeding my first baby, through severe post natal anxiety with my second baby, to finding the support I needed to put the black dog in its place with my third baby, I would have found the motherhood journey a very lonely place without North Shore Mums! I use NSM for everything now from finding a tradie to getting parenting reassurance.’ – Jill, Pymble
  • ‘Motherhood brings about many unknowns, joys and bumps in the raising of children and it’s been great to have a support network of others who have been through similar situations to bounce ideas off, encourage and at times lament with. I have found it super helpful having North Shore Mums as a ‘go to’ when I have needed some help raising my children and navigating through their journeys. Thanks to all those who make this group happen!’ – Olivia, Pymble

Read more quotes from North Shore Mums here.

North Shore Mums is always there to support women through relationship issues, medical diagnosis, infertility, miscarriage, childhood bullying, mental health issues, divorce, affairs… and through to the everyday issues all parents face like sleep & feeding issues, challenging toddler behaviour, recommendations for local trusted services and of course just general banter about everyday life!

Our driving objective with the Facebook group is to provide a safe, supportive and positive environment for local mums to seek and share advice and recommendations. With over 30,000 members and sometimes polarising issues, we’re proud to be able to provide this for the vast majority of the time. If a post is getting heated, our active community members are always quick to report it, so the moderating team can deal with the situation efficiently.

We also offer the free service of posting anonymous questions for members, for sensitive issues where they cannot have their identity revealed. This has helped many women during times of crisis.

Local mums enjoying the NSM Smiles2U Movie Night

Thank you to our community – that’s you!

This Award isn’t just for me. There’s a huge number of awesome local mums who make North Shore Mums what it is… that’s you guys. Plus, the amazing moderators who keep the Facebook group a safe and supportive online community, the incredibly talented ladies who keep the website packed full of relevant & entertaining content, the awesome mums in our online community and all the businesses who support it by advertising.

I also want to give special mention to the ladies who run North Shore Mums Smiles2U – Michelle Key, Michelle Barry, Sarah Collison & Michelle Cini. They all selflessly volunteer their time to create care packages for sick children and worried parents in the emergency departments of our local hospitals.

Elizabeth from Wahroonga recently shared, ‘Our baby was recently very sick with pneumonia and we had him treated at WISE in Macquarie Park. After they gave him a big dose of antibiotics via IV, they gave him a gorgeous care pack that had been donated by North Shore Mums Smiles2U. It has a teddy and some books. It was such a thoughtful and generous gift and it was what we all needed at the time to cheer up after a stressful couple of weeks with bubby. Thank you!’

Smiles2U Team: Sarah Collison, Michelle Cini, Michelle Barry, Michelle Key

More about the Awards and Winners

I am humbled to receive this award, given that a woman for whom I have a huge amount of admiration was the recipient of the same award in 2018 – Sallianne McClelland, the President of the Board for the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter. If you’re not familiar with the HKWS, it provides temporary accommodation for women in times crisis such as homelessness or domestic violence. Since opening the shelter in February 2015, they have housed 282 local women, providing a safe, non-threatening environment to assist them through their emotional and physical crisis. Sallianne dedicates an incredible amount of time & effort to running the shelter, and providing support to women in crisis.

Sallianne McClellan from Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter was the 2018 recipient

So yes, I have some incredibly big shoes to fill! Although I can’t attest to having the same huge personal impact on women undergoing crisis, our Facebook group has become the first place that many local mums will go to ask for advice, recommendations or support. Of course, friends and family will always play a big role of support in the real world, but having access to the collective advice of over 30,000 locals who have personal experiences or wisdom to share, has changed lives.

At the Community Christmas Party, these Awards were also presented to the following people:

  • Jennie Thompson, Hills District Netball: Jennie is the President of Hills District Netball and has been for 12 years. This involves managing over 3,500 registered players across 20 clubs with competition run all year round.
  • Vicki Dean, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Basketball: Vicki is the heart and soul of Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Basketball. She has grown the organisation which now sees games played 5 days a week with kids from Year 1 right through to adults.
  • Peter “Noddy” Quirke, Scouts: Peter is well known in the Scouting movement in Hornsby and is Benowie District Scout Leader. Peter ‘Noddy’ Quirke has ensured the continued success of the Scouting organisation in Northern Sydney.
  • Berowra Apex: Berowra Apex is made up of a group of volunteers from the local area they are always ready to lend a helping hand.  Whether it is something small like running a BBQ or big, like a convoy of trucks out to the farmers – Berowra Apex is always willing to help.

L-R: Matt Kean MP, Jennie Thompson (Hills District Netball), Peter Quirke (Scouts), Vicki Dean (Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Basketball), Rachel Chappell (North Shore Mums), Charles Blaxland (Berowra Apex)

Thank you Matt for the recognition and to everyone in our wonderful community for making North Shore Mums the platform it is today. I am truly humbled and honoured. And thank you to everyone in our community who contributes to helping other mums, every day, and in so many ways.

Rachel spoke to Alexi Boyd from Small Biz Matters after receiving the awards, about the North Shore Mums journey so far. Click here to listen to the interview!


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