Leura’s Tom Colless was named a Freeman of the City at Tuesday night’s council meeting, becoming only the 13th citizen to receive the region’s highest individual honour for outstanding civic service.
A wake-up call for anyone who complains there isn’t enough time in one day, Mr Colless has owned and operated Colless Foods since 1954 while dedicating most of his spare time to volunteering with more than half a dozen service organisations and countless community projects.
Known for his boundless drive to get things done "without fuss", Mr Colless accepted his appointment as a Freeman of the City in typically humble style, telling the Gazette "all I really have to say is my father (Charles) once said to me if you make a living in the town and community you live in, you should give something back".
"That had a big impression on me - I live by that.
"I also believe if you want to change something you’ve got to make things happen - you can’t sit and waste time.
"You can learn lessons from the past but you can’t change yesterday - you can only change tomorrow."
Mr Colless has been an active member for decades - often in a leadership role - for the Rotary Club of Katoomba, The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, Blue Mountains Tourism, Leura Village Association, Katoomba Apex Club, NSW Independent Frozen Food Distributors, Clean Up Australia and, more recently, the Katoomba Chamber of Commerce and Community (KCCC)
The Rotary Sapphire Paul Harris Fellow will turn 82 in October but judging by his actions in recent years he is not about to slow down anytime soon.
In 2006 he donated $100,000 to make the spectacular Road Builders’ Memorial sculpture by Terrance Plowright at Lilianfels Park a reality, in 2011 he organised Australia Day celebrations in Katoomba which raised $18,000 for the Australia Flood Relief Appeal, and he flew to India to directly participate in Rotary International’s Polio eradication program, vaccinating hundreds of children.
Apart from attending regular after hours meetings for local community and business groups, Mr Colless is out and about in Leura and Katoomba from 6am most Sundays alongside KCCC president Mark Jarvis, removing graffiti off buildings, poles and walls.
Earlier this year he co-founded Businesses Supporting the Bicentenary to generate funding sources and sponsorship to make the 2013 Mountains Crossings Bicentenary as successful as possible.
As Scenic World owner Phil Hammon wrote on Mr Colless’ nomination form: "he is still at it . . . he never stops!".
"He is well deserving of local recognition, for the enormous amount of unpaid work that he has done for the citizens of Katoomba and in his relentless promotion of tourism in the Blue Mountains."