Above and beyond – Biggies winners announced

20 April 2021

The outstanding efforts of the people who work for ATCO, Coles and Woolworths were recognised on Monday night when over 350 business, government and community leaders came together for the Business Council’s annual dinner and inaugural Biggies awards.

The Biggies celebrate the people in business who went above and beyond to help their communities through the bushfire and COVID emergencies.

The chair of the Biggies judging panel, David Gonski, said businesses contribute through their people incredible things, both to the communities here in Australia and indeed throughout the world.

“I think it’s time that we actually looked at that, saluted it, and absolutely praised the people who do it,” Mr Gonski said.

The winner of the Big Heart award – which recognises an individual or team who has gone to extraordinary lengths to help those in need – was taken out by John Appleby from Coles in Batemans Bay.

The judges said John’s actions shone through the entries and he demonstrated exemplary leadership and a commitment to his community. Relying on his initiative and resourcefulness, while his own family was being evacuated, John kept Coles in Batemans Bay open during the bushfires to feed his community when they needed it most.

John also took out the popular vote in the Big Heart People’s Choice award where the public was invited to cast their votes.

More than 12,500 public votes were cast in both the Big Heart and Big Impact categories.

The winner of the Big Impact award – which recognises one company’s outstanding efforts – was taken out by ATCO.

The judges said ATCO’s entry demonstrated enormous community spirit. When bushfires tore through the village of Mogo on the NSW South Coast. ATCO was able to design, source and despatch demountable buildings within two weeks. These buildings became the Mogo pop-up mall and gave small business owners new hope and somewhere to trade. ATCO also generously donated an additional $1 million to the BCA’s BizRebuild initiative.

BizRebuild chair and Biggies judge, Sir Peter Cosgrove, said he was proud of the way the business community responded first to the bushfires then COVID.

“They stepped forward to assist small businesses who were smashed and helped them get back on their feet,” Sir Peter said.

“I think this was an amazing venture by business.”

The winner of the Big Impact People’s Choice award was Woolworths whose employees demonstrated the importance of people in everyday jobs going above and beyond to help the communities they are so much a part of.

Judging panel chair, David Gonski said he was immensely proud to be involved in the inaugural Biggies.

“These awards were about people. Businesses are people, they are not an abstract concept. They are part of and care about their communities.

“I warmly congratulate the winners, we are proud of you all.”

The 2021 Biggies winners are:



2021 Winner

Big Heart


Recognising those going to extraordinary lengths to help those in need, often while facing their own challenges.


John Appleby and Coles Group


While John Appleby, a Coles regional manager in NSW, was supporting hundreds of team members across multiple stores, his own family was being evacuated from their Batemans Bay home.


Big Heart - People’s Choice

John Appleby and Coles Group


Big Impact


Recognising one company’s outstanding efforts over the last 12 months.



In just two weeks, ATCO’s Sydney team designed, sourced, dispatched and installed 13 demountable structures in Mogo – worth around $200,000.



Big Impact - People’s Choice

Woolworths Group Limited


From assisting competitors to keep communities supplied, donating tonnes of supplies and supporting workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic, there was little Woolworths didn’t do to step up in 2020 


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