Suzanne Tunks awarded for spirit

OUT of 15 “incredibly inspirational” women, two were awarded today (September 18) at Lifeline Canberra’s 11th annual Women of Spirit Awards luncheon today (September 18), says Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson.

Carrie says the Canberra community is full of inspirational people, one of these being Suzanne Tunks, who was named Lifeline Canberra’s “2017 Woman of Spirit”. 

Suzanne established the Little Stars Beads program after her daughter, Stella, passed away at nine months of age from a complex cardiac condition.

She started the program to offer a positive experience to children who are diagnosed with a serious long-term illness. The program offers rewards to children for their medical procedures in the form of unique beads. For many children, the beads are a symbol of pride and courage for all of the challenges they have overcome.

Suzanne also established the Stella Bella Little Stars Foundation to provide petrol and food vouchers and small grants for equipment for parents who are caring for seriously ill children and are struggling financially.

Through the recently-opened Stella Bella’s Children Centre in Fyshwick, Suzanne offers specialised respite and an occasional care unit for chronically ill children, alongside mainstream childcare room.

Stacey Bransdon was named the “2017 Rising Woman of Spirit” for mentoring countless individuals through their careers and through their own battles with mental illness, following her own depression.

Over the past five years, Stacey has silently suffered from depression. At times, her illness was so debilitating, that she couldn’t leave the house or even her bed, spending much of her time alone. 

She has inspired others living with mental illness to open up and share their story with family and friends, and has highlighted the importance of this support network in managing mental illness.

In response to Suzanne and Stacey’s story, as well as many others, Carrie says its humbling to see those who set out to do something that will leave the community — and the people within it — in a better way than they found it.
“Our Women of Spirit Awards and luncheon is one way we can recognise the amazing women in our community and thank them for the work they do,” she says. 

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