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North Shore District Group

Annual Awards


Noel Rosten Encouragement Award - 2022 recipient David Roberts

Since 1994, an annual award has been endowed upon a new member who has shown outstanding willingness to be involved in North Shore Group activities. Formerly called the New Members Encouragement Award, it was renamed the Noel Rosten Encouragement Award in 2019 to honour Noel’s memory.

Noel was always a keen gardener and received several awards, first for his exotic garden in Wideview Road, Berowra and then his native garden backing onto Berowra Valley National Park. In the late 80's when our new home was built on a steep block, he tackled the weed infested bush behind us and began to learn the difference between exotic and native plants. He joined SGAP (Society for Growing Australian Plants) as it was known then and enjoyed the company of like minded members until his untimely death in a motor vehicle accident in his front garden in 2018.   

Noel had a rare talent for propagation and enjoyed raising unusual plants in his small nursery beside our house. He liked growing native orchids and was always at war with the dreaded dendrobium beetles. His garden was enjoyed by many in the Open Garden Scheme (which no longer exists).

Noel was an original member of the Friends of Berowra Valley and contributed a chapter on native orchids in their guide book published in 2001.

Because he drove a small 4 wheel drive, he was invited to join the Hornsby Herbarium group and then became obsessed with the weekly excursions all over Hornsby Shire to find and identify the native flora which were then entered into the Hornsby Herbarium web site. Noel was always seen with a camera around his neck on those outings, and he won several awards for his photography, mainly flora and birds.

In 2005 Noel was given the Seniors Week Award for Services to the Environment.

He was made an honorary member of AABR (Australian Association of Bush Regenerators.)

Noel was ever ready to encourage others to enjoy native plants and bush regeneration. He would be so pleased to know that one of the high school boys he mentored in bush care at Lyrebird Gulley is now a NPWS ranger. This fits very well with the naming of the Noel Rosten New Members Encouragement Award.

Past Recipients

New Member Encouragement Award

1994 Marie-Claire Schaffner

1995 Paul Davies
1997 Joanne Caldwell
1998 Carol Nolder
1999 Sandra Kalnins-Cole
2000 Anna Bernasiak
2001 Rosalie Clarke
2002 Suzanne Saunders
2003 Max Gregory
2004 Graeme Muddle
2005 Brent Jones
2006 Sara Fletcher
2007 Tony Evans
2008 Wendy Grimm

2009 Marilyn Mason

2010 Gae Watson

2011 Helen Theile

2012 Ted & Nancy Shaw

2013 Not awarded

2014 Jutta and Robert Petherick

2015 Ros Mort

2016 Stephen Brown

2017 Genevieve Meares

2018 Kylie Hanks

Noel Rosten Encouragement Award

2019 Gillian Gutridge

2020 Tania Lamble

2021 Helen Smith

Melba Dyer Award - 2022 recipient Genevieve Meares

This is an annual award to the member making the most valuable contribution to the Group during the year.

Melba Dyer was a tireless enthusiast for native plants, including their propagation, and a much valued member of the group in its formative years.

A previous recipient decided to find out about Melba Dyer and how the award came into existence, these are his words.

Who was Melba Dyer?

After receiving the 2007 Melba Dyer award I got to wondering who was Mel (as she was affectionately known) and how did the award come into being, awarded each year since 1992 for ‘most valuable contribution’. There is a little about Mel in the “Australian Plants Society North Shore Group - A History Part 1 1958 to 1980”. First, in 1978 she has an ‘honourable mention on seed propagation as contributing to the success’- among others - to a workshop at KWG which ‘was quite successful with 800-900 visitors!’. Further reference to assistance with the Groups’ Conference - on the committee (with Jeff Howes) - selling plants at the Festival and in 1980 to ‘share the secretariat duties between them’, three to replace a long serving secretary!

A picture of an active member but what of the woman herself? She was portrayed to me as always cheerful, a heart of gold, helpful, generous and welcoming but in life a battler. She had four children but lost her seaman husband early - living in Princes Street, Turramurra she supported her young family by sewing, mainly children’s clothes - she received word at the Festival of the death of her son in an accident. Later when sick with cancer and after a storm partially demolished her shadehouse she moved away to Laurieton to live with her daughters and grandchildren - in her will she left a bequest to our Group and her daughters requested an award in her name, a plaque plus a monetary gift to the annual recipient, the first being Val Williams.

So the genesis of the Melba Dyer award but the abiding impression I have is of a noble woman and plant propagator par excellence - especially of orchids, for which she won many awards, and of hoyas - a whiz ‘with truly green fingers and toes and anything else that could breathe life into native plants’.

                          By Alec Fisher with thanks for the reminiscences of Julia Robertson

Past Recipients

1992 Val Williams

1993 Pat Hersey

1994 Julia Robertson

1995 Margaret Keith

1996 Ross Doig

1997 Margaret Hamilton

1998 Noel & Rae Rosten

1999 Jenny Lewis

2000 Jeff Howes

2001 Esme Blackmore

2002 Carol Nolder

2003 Bill Jones

2004 Sue Fredrickson

2005 Fred Langshaw

2006 Alec Fisher

2007 Bob Failes

2008 Barry Lees

2009 Pat Pike

2010 Eric Smith

2011 Tony Evans

2012 Wendy Grimm

2013 Jan Williamson

2014 Lyn Kirby

2015 Phillip Grimm

2016 Sue Bowen

2017 Helen Ray

2018 Judy Jeffery

2019 Pam and Jim Lawler

2020 Jan Marshall

2021 Michael Griffith

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