Local man Bill Bradley’s 60 years of service to the community has been recognised with a Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement in Disability.
Bill was nominated for the national award by Hornsby Shire Council’s Community Development Officer Sophie Davis, who was at Australia’s Parliament House to see him win last night.
The Lesley Hall Award recognises the efforts of an individual who has both experienced a disability and worked to improve life for others with a disability.
“We are all incredibly lucky to have a hard-working, community-focused resident like Bill living in Hornsby Shire and I am very grateful for all the contributions he has made to help people with disabilities in our area and beyond,” Hornsby Shire Mayor Steve Russell said.
A promising sports-person in his youth, Bill contracted polio at the age of 14 and spent more than a year in an iron lung.
Yet despite the ongoing effects of his illness, Bill remained an active member of the community, founding Belrose Junior Rugby League Club and supporting other local sports.
“All my dreams went down the gurgler when I got polio but I found a way to occupy the mind and assist others,” Bill said.
He became interested in making sport more accessible for people with disabilities in 1995 after he was rejected from joining three lawn bowls clubs due to his wheelchair.
Since then, he has organised sporting events for people with disabilities in Australia, Korea and South Africa as well as exceeding at lawn bowls himself and winning multiple gold medals.
He also helped arrange for the donation of wheelchairs to people with a disability living in East Timor and in Indonesia after a tsunami.
Bill said that he believes his work helps to give people with disabilities a way to get back into the community.
“One particular bowler, a young lady in her 30’s, had cancer of the spine and thought her life was finished… I taught her to play lawn bowls in a wheelchair and she is now one of the top 10 bowlers in the state,” he said.
Beyond his work in sport Bill is also a member of the fundraising committee for Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital, the Hornsby Homelessness Task Force and the Young Leos.
“You’ve got to keep the mind active … it doesn’t hurt to help anybody, it only costs you a bit of time.”