1029 Hot Tomato on the hunt for Gold Coast Stars of Christmas

Do you know someone who deserves recognition? A Gold Coaster who goes above and beyond, is an unsung hero and puts others before themselves? Then 1029 Hot Tomato want to hear from you.

The local radio station has teamed up with The Star Gold Coast to reward deserving locals this Christmas by giving them the chance to experience the brand new Harvest Buffet before it opens to the public.

This week a number of worthy Gold Coasters received invitations to attend a special brunch hosted by Galey, Mal & Moyra on December 14 after they were nominated by family members, friends and colleagues.


Here are some of the stars that have been announced, and the reasons why they were nominated:

Melissa Fainges
Nominated by Jamie Weston
Melissa is a high school teacher who has this year made an incredible impact on her special needs HPE class. She is in constant contact with the education department to gather physical resources that allow her to include physically disabled students in practical sports lessons. Many of her students have previously struggled and experienced failure when participating in HPE classes but with the help of her teacher aids and the school’s therapy dog she has exposed these students to positive and rewarding PE lessons. She has also managed to achieve an incredible feat of all the students in this class achieving a grade of C or above! The strategies she has implemented to help those students who suffer from Autism to complete written assessment have been amazing and significantly reduced the stress and anxiety these students often experience at assessment time. Well done Mel!!!

Melanie Annand
Nominated by Thomas Keegan
Melanie deserves to be recognised for her dedication and volunteer commitment to the Northern Gold Coast veteran community. For the past nine years she has been the Secretary of the North Gold Coast RSL Sub-Branch which has grown its membership significantly over this period and she dedicates considerable hours every week to provide administrative and life support to the veterans in the Northern Gold Coast community. She has participated in and organised several fundraising events, all aimed at raising the community’s awareness of the Sub Branch and raising funds to allow welfare works to be undertaken. In addition, for the past two years she has also taken up the role of North Gold Coast RSL Sub Branch School Liaison Officer which links the Sub Branch and over 25 schools together, to provide veteran support to the commemorative and educational programs being delivered in schools. She is also the Sub Branch Social Coordinator which means she coordinates opportunities for the North Gold Coast RSL Sub Branch veteran community to participate in social activities designed to encourage social interactions, peer and family support. These events are vital, especially for those veterans suffering from PTSD and Melanie is one of these such veterans who additionally has service related medical injuries which means daily pain management and lower than expected quality of life for this young veteran and mother. Ms Melanie Annand is a role model to many and her efforts have encouraged her family (partner and three school aged children) to become heavily involved in the veteran community activities.

Pete Cardona
Nominated by Chris Nolan
Pete is one of those people who give up their own time to support the local community but doesn’t go around shouting about it. You can often find Pete at Bunnings sausage sizzles giving a hand to raise funds for many of the community groups that he is involved with. This includes running the Nerang Community Gardens at Country Paradise and involvement in its many events, Country Paradise Committee member, Clearview / Clearwater neighbourhood watch committee (president), admin on the local facebook page for Clearview/ Clearwater fb page. He is very busy at the moment as the chairman of our Nerang Celebrates Christmas committee. This is an annual event where we raise money to support local sponsors to provide a Christmas carol event (carols, rides, entertainment etc). You will find him on Saturday morning from dawn to dusk working on the Nerang Celebrates Christmas event at Nerang on 15 Dec and inspiring many others to help on the day. All this voluntary work is on top of a full time job and the unpaid role of husband and grandfather. If a job needs doing, or someone needs help in the community, Pete will be there. He doesn’t every ask for anything and does everything with a smile

Katrina Wiley
Nominated by Deborah Hopkins
Katrina struggles with severe asthma, and quite often ends up in hospital due to the complexity of her condition – dust storms can send her to ICU, and so can walking into a public bathroom that has been cleaned heavily with bleach. Despite all her difficulties, she works full time in childcare; she still looks out to help others around her, and has just recently completed her certification to be a volunteer as a bedside play carer at the Qld Children’s Hospital in Brisbane every Sunday, where she plays with sick kids in the hospital wards. She deserves to have something good come back to her, and I think attending this breakfast would be a lovely reward for her.

Donna Smith
Nominated by Genevieve Dennis
Donna is just a volunteering machine. Firstly, she’s a single mum who recently battled breast cancer, and is now in remission. But what a lady! She’s the vice president at the Broadbeach P&C. where she organised the colour fun run for 800 kids, as well as the Father’s Day & Christmas stalls. She volunteers at every single event – I could list over 20. She’s also the (volunteer) treasurer at Gold Coast little Athletics, plus time keeper, fruit picker upperer, and what ever else needs doing. Finally, she’s volunteered to be secretary at hey body corporate. She’s always the first one with her hand up and misses out on just enjoying the event. Give this lady a day off! (Well, she probably won’t take the day, she’ll be off to little athletics that afternoon). 14 Dec is also the last day of school, so it’s her last opportunity of the year to have some solo Donna time.

Helen Rigney
Nominated by Lee Richards
Helen has devoted 30 years to volunteering at Tweed Netball doing all jobs from cleaning the toilets, working in the canteen to being President for the last 7 years. Helen works tirelessly to provide a very well run association which gives the opportunity to over 800 girls and women to play competitively and socially. Helen does this whilst also running her own successful conveyancing business full time. Helen also volunteers her time to help out at the Bilambil Jets Seniors Rugby League Club where she often gives up her Sundays to help out working on the gate or doing raffles etc. Helen is a very well known and respected member of the Tweed Community who over the years has helped out many people selflessly. It would be lovely to recognise her as a star for all that she does for so many others.

Savili and Nikki Sega
Nominated by Natalie Hinton
Savili and Nikki are from ‘Walk With Us’, a Not For Profit charity who work tirelessly to support the homeless, disadvantaged, youth, lonely, domestic violence and sufferers of mental health. Each Monday evening (without miss) they feed the needy a hearty meal at Fradgley Hall in Burleigh Heads. On Christmas Eve they host a huge early 3 course Xmas Lunch (usually catering for 200+) for those who are doing it tough, also providing them with gifts, and a gift shop where they can spend their free funny money to purchase gifts (donated) for family or friends. Their motto is ‘Be A Good Human’ and this truly reflects their humility and kindness, and the wonderful work they do in our community. Nothing is too much for these 2 wonderful humans, and I would like to see them enjoy a STAR breakfast, for their constant acts of kindness.

Zoe Scharenguivel
Nominated by Ingo Rahn
Zoe founded Gold Coast based, nationwide domestic and family violence support charity, Friends With Dignity alongside Manuela Whitford and Julia McKenna in 2015. Zoe’s quest to help victims of domestic and family violence goes back to when she was a young stay-at-home mum in 2014. “I was continually lighting candles at home to acknowledge the numerous women and children who were being reported on the news after being killed by domestic violence or under tragic circumstances,” she said. “In early 2015, however, a personal connection of mine was tragically killed by her ex-partner resulting in not only her tragic death but also the death of her unborn baby as she was also 10 weeks pregnant. The extended grief I saw through my personal network of her passing really opened my eyes to the ripple effect domestic violence has on the community in general. I wanted to do something more than just light another candle and planned to organise a small lunch with a few of my girlfriends to raise some money to donate to an organisation in support of domestic violence prevention. The lunch quickly turned into something much bigger with a restaurant offering its entire venue exclusively for the lunch, the Queensland Police Service Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Unit providing an MC and an international illusionist offering to perform. The lunch connected me with Manuela who was at the time the co-founder of Assist a Sista (an already existing Gold Coast charity organisation that co-ordinates donated goods to help survivors of domestic violence) and we formed a strong personal relationship built on a common goal to make a significant difference to families affected.”

Aarti Bajaj
Nominated by Lealer Woodgate
I have never met someone more driven and committed to their passion than Aarti. A medical sonographer by trade, Aarti is a wife, mother, triathlete and also holds a Masters degree in Indian contemporary and classical dance. Aarti is also the director of Navrasa Dance School in Southport. Aarti visited HOTA 18 months ago, scouting a venue for an end of year recital for her Navrasa students. But instead, upon eyeing the incredible Arts Theatre made a spur of the moment decision to book the auditorium for MEERA – a production she had been dreaming about one day bringing to the stage for 14 years. Aarti then went about assembling a cast and crew of 300 local amateur performers to create the stage spectacular MEERA which played at HOTA on the 4th of November, 2018 to a sold out crowd of 1,100. Aarti not only wrote MEERA, but starred, directed, and managed all facets of the production from sourcing costumes, to working with some of the world’s top maestros to create all original musical compositions for the productions to marketing and everything else. Most importantly, Aarti has brought together hundreds of people (men and women), to “be part of something” – an experience that will live with us all forever. She has given hundreds of people a platform, and the confidence to believe in themselves and fulfill life-long dreams. The friendships and camaraderie between those involved with the production MEERA is truly the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed or been a part of. Always humble, Aarti is a woman of vision and purpose – an inspiration to all who cross her path. I cannot think of a more deserving person to be nominated!

1029 Hot Tomato are still calling for nominations for Stars of Christmas. If you know a local who deserves to be recognised this festive season – nominate them here: mygc.com.au/stars-of-christmas/