While we think every woman deserves to be recognised on International Women’s Day, one local has taken out the honour of being named North Shore Woman of the Year 2024.

The award recognises women for their outstanding contribution to their local community as businesswomen, role models, volunteers, leaders and mentors. This year, Laura Stone has won the accolade for her dedication to environmental conservation and her innovative approach to community engagement.

Laura, along with her husband Ben, is the driving force behind Sydney by Kayak (SBK), a company offering guided kayak tours on Sydney Harbour with a twist – a strong focus on environmental education and activism.

Laura Stone (middle) receiving the award from Felicity Wilson MP, the member for North Shore.

Laura and her team have developed several conservation and sustainability programs to reduce waste in Sydney Harbour and regenerate the coastal foreshore to enhance and protect the fragile marine environment.

Since 2018, Laura and her team have contributed $15 from every ‘clean up’ paddle seat sold to local conservation projects, nearing almost $50,000. Thanks to their success, hundreds of mangroves have been planted and thousands of kilograms of waste have been removed from the harbour.

While Laura is proud of SBK’s success, she’s particularly humbled by the Woman of the Year award. “Receiving this award fills me with immense pride, not just for my accomplishments as a business owner, but also as a mother,” she explains. “It validates the effort I’ve put into being a positive role model for my children, and a contributing member of our wonderful community.”

One of Laura’s most fulfilling projects is the installation of Living Seawall Boulders in Lavender Bay, in collaboration with Sydney Institute of Marine Science and North Sydney Council. These specially designed structures create marine habitats, fostering new life in the heart of the harbour. 

“We’ve been able to observe new species moving in and witness the positive impact on the harbour’s ecosystem,” Laura says. “Our last biodiversity report, conducted at six months, revealed 31 new species in the rockpools.”

“As we approach their one-year mark, we’re eagerly anticipating the next report to see any new exciting residents that may have settled in over the summer,” she explains. 

Sydney By Kayak’s sunset tour

 

Through her ecotourism kayaking business, Laura is paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come. And inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards in the process.

SBK’s upcoming “Little Harbour Heroes” program is designed to engage children in environmental action. It’s creating a better future for her children that helps her stay motivated.

One of Sydney By Kayak’s corporate clean ups

“There’s no better way to start the day than kayaking at sunrise,” she shares, “Talking to paddlers about our beautiful harbour reignites my passion.” Her family also plays a big role. “I love that our children are learning from us and growing up in a world where people are doing amazing things and making changes for the better.” she explains.

To find out more and support Sydney By Kayak Tours, you can join one of their tours or follow them on Instagram to stay updated about their projects and initiatives.

Sydney By Kayak

Instagram: @sydney_by_kayak

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sydneybykayak

Website: sydneybykayak.com.au

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