Willy and Di Paes, recipients of the Fraser Coast Regional Council’s Cultural Award of the Year, have undeniably left an indelible mark on their community through their outstanding service and dedication. Over the past 14 years, this dynamic duo has selflessly contributed to various organisations and events, showcasing their artistic talents, community spirit, and unwavering commitment.

Willy Paes, an accomplished artist, has become synonymous with Maryborough, where his vibrant works adorn the cityscape, telling stories and reflecting the unique character of the community. From the colourful pavement art at the Mary Poppins Festivals to hand-painted backdrops for the Brolga Theatre’s community productions, and numerous murals, including the iconic mural at The Story Bank, Willy’s artistic touch has enriched the cultural fabric of Maryborough.

The couple’s involvement extends beyond the realm of art. Di Paes, in addition to supporting Willy in his artistic endeavours, dedicates her time to the community through various volunteer roles. Twice a week, she contributes to the Hospital Auxiliary, providing invaluable support to the healthcare sector. As a member of the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise, Di serves as the Entertainment Coordinator for the Maryborough Markets, managing stall holder raffles and overseeing social media activities.

Reflecting on their extensive volunteer journey, Willy and Di share their motivation for giving back to the community. For Willy, the combination of his artistic talent and theatrical background serves as a vital element in bringing joy and love to others, whether through Mary Poppins-themed festivities or playing Santa and Mrs. Claus. Their involvement with Rotary aligns with the organisation’s core motto: “Less For Self & More To Serve.”

In the Paes’ cherished memories, visiting patients at Maryborough Base Hospital during Christmas stands out. The joy and enlightenment seen on the faces of patients and staff bring to light the positive impact of their service. The couple’s commitment to community events has shaped them into dedicated givers of their time, fostering a sense of fulfillment derived from making a difference.

A particularly heartwarming experience for Willy and Di is during Christmas time when they witness the smiles and happiness of less fortunate families receiving hugs and small gifts. Their advice to others is simple yet profound: “Give to others less fortunate than yourself.”