Barbara Cowley was the winner of the REX Airlines' Regional Woman of the Year at the 2015 NSW Women of the Year Awards.
Barbara Cowley helps young women in the Hunter Valley develop their own personal worth, strength and purpose through a group mentoring and personal development program called SHINE. SHINE aims to help young women realise their potential and prevent problems such as drug and alcohol abuse.
Barbara became a volunteer with the program in 2013 and, realising its far reaching potential, a dedicated fundraiser shortly after. In 2014, in lieu of regular birthday celebrations, Barbara created a new fundraising event called ShineWALK180.
Over seven days she walked 180km from Cessnock to a suburb in Sydney's north. The distance represented the 180-degree turnaround that she saw in the lives of women and girls who attended the program. The $27,000 she raised has helped expand the program throughout the Hunter region. From an initial goal of 10 Hunter girls she has raised enough funding for 385 girls and women to shine. She will repeat the walk in June.
Barbara also volunteers her time with Father Chris Riley Youth Off the Streets Reading program, and has organised women's empowerment nights within the Hunter Valley region.
She has arranged a Breast Cancer awareness event 'Unite to Fight' as well as a pop up shop to provide care baskets to women undergoing breast care treatment in local hospitals. She is on the Maitland City Carols organising committee which attracts more than 5000 people annually from across the region.
Barbara is driven by her desire and her belief that the Hunter Valley can, and will be, a location that really encourages and facilitates women to SHINE.
Barbara is also a wife, mother, marketing director and marriage celebrant.