ALDI Australia is honoured to be a long-time supporter of Barnardos Mother of the Year, and to celebrate this year’s most inspirational Mum, Noelene Lever, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Noelene is a 78-year old woman from Forster, New South Wales, who has dedicated herself to caring for children from all walks of life. Noelene not only raised five children of her own as a young widow, but went on to foster more than 50 other children, some until adulthood, in a home where “her door never closes”.

“Motherhood is my life, although I’ve only had the last two years on my own since everyone has left, my kids are still my first and foremost. Motherhood has helped me throughout my life every day. I tell my children that love costs nothing. Spread it around. Don’t ever close a door to a child in need,” explains Noelene.

Noelene was more than surprised to learn that her foster daughter Sarina, had nominated her for this year’s Barnardos Mother of The Year. Noelene began caring for Sarina when she was just two weeks old, but ensured Sarina knew about her birth mother and family through stories and a journey to Northern Queensland to meet them.

“My mother is my role model and I am the woman I am today because of her,” says Sarina, who is now 39. “She always made sure that I knew where I came from. This was very important because she didn’t want me to lose my connection with my family. By doing this, she gave me knowledge of my identity – of who I am and where I belong.”

Barnardos Mother of the Year is the largest and most recognised national awards celebrating mothers. The awards publicly acknowledge the critical role mothering plays in keeping children safe, nurturing them to help realise their potential and shaping the future of Australia.

ALDI Australia CEO Tom Daunt attended the national ceremony on Thursday 10th May to present Noelene with the award.

“It has been a privilege to meet all the inspirational mums nominated for the Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018 awards,” Tom Daunt says. “Sincere congratulations to this year’s winner, Noelene Lever, and from all of us at ALDI, thank you to Barnardos for celebrating the incredible work of mums and the positive difference they make in the lives of their children.”

Speaking about the Mother of the Year award, Noelene says it’s important mothers are acknowledged because of the time they give to their children, often forgoing their own needs because they know the most important thing is their children.

Of course, motherhood comes with its rewards and challenges.

“The challenging part is trying to get to their problem and lead them on the right path to let them know they can do it. I’m here behind you. It is really challenging when they put themselves down and I have to reach out and get to their heart and let them know they are not on their own.”

For Noelene, the most rewarding part is being able to be there for her children, encouraging them every step of the way.

“I have lived on my own for the past two years but I am still involved with the kids. I go and see them do Tai Kwando, netball, junior footy and just to see their face when they see me there supporting them. They have the biggest smile. When they see me watching them they try extra hard. That is what is so rewarding.”

For more information about Barnardos Mother of the Year or to nominate a Mum for next year, visit