FORMER Wollondilly mayor Christine Towndrow received an award at last week's council meeting, described by mayor Benn Banasik as a "once-in-a-lifetime, if ever" award.
Mrs Towndrow, (pictured) the first female Wollondilly mayor, served four terms in the top job and a total of 27 years on council.
She said it was a "great honour" to receive the Community Spirit Award.
"I was asked to go there to receive an award but [the Community Spirit Award] was a complete surprise," she said.
Cr Banasik praised the Douglas Park local's contributions to the shire.
"She has given almost 40 years of service to the community," he said.
"She was the longest serving councillor and the first woman mayor but it's what she did afterwards — she continued to give to the community.
"It's common for me to come into the office and see her downstairs talking about an issue that needs to be fixed."
The 72-year-old said one of her greatest achievements was helping to improve the facilities at the Queen Victoria Hospital.
"We fought to get it upgraded," she said."The hope in the future is that it will be another Carrington [Centennial Care in Camden]."
Asked why she had devoted so much time to the community, she said: "I have always been community minded . . . it's part of who I am."