Buxton Rural Fire Service volunteer Kim Hill has been crowned the 2020 NSW Adult Volunteer of the Year in front of 400 special guests for the virtual State Ceremony for the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers in every region across NSW.

The awards are in their 14th year and have grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across Australia.

NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer Kim Hill was one of many volunteers who dropped everything to protect lives, property and her own community during the unprecedented and devastating 2019/20 summer bushfires.

Her leadership, coordination and logistical expertise helped form the backbone of the Buxton’s RFS response to the Green Wattle Creek Fires on South West Sydney’s rural fringe.

She was forced to evacuate her own family and was told her home was lost, only to return to her burnt out street to find it still standing. She stayed to put out spot fires and flare ups, while her husband worked with other brave volunteers fighting across many different fire fronts.

However, Kim’s volunteering has continued for many months after the fire was beaten.

She joined with the Picton Country Women’s Association to run the Balmoral Village Recovery Hub, a place for people to access support, referrals to other services and donations to help them rebuild their lives. The hub included a dozen shipping containers of donated items and serviced everyone from Wollondilly and Wingecarribee LGAs.

She gave countless hours in coordinating and corralling numerous volunteers, emergency recovery agencies, along with the support of two local councils.

Kim’s commitment to community continued with her work to help deliver the Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer Memorial Playground – a place to remember and commemorate the RFS volunteers who lost their lives fighting to save their community.

Kim help source and coordinate donations and manage the project.

The 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs.

The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said:

“The past 12 months have thrown up challenge after challenge for communities across the state and volunteers have continued to give their all in the face of this tremendous adversity.

“These awards are our way of saying thank you and reminding everyone across the state of the value of volunteering.

“Congratulations to our awards winners announced today and thank you to all our finalists, nominees and the volunteering community across NSW.”

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said:

“Kim Hill epitomises the selfless community spirit that shone bright throughout last year’s unprecedented bushfire season and is a very deserving recipient of this year’s Volunteer of the Year award.

“Whether they are donating their time and skills responding to natural disasters or coaching children’s sport, volunteers are part of the fabric of our communities.

“There has never been a more fitting time to recognise the enormous sacrifice our volunteers make, and no better opportunity to say thank you for the work they do.”

ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said:

“Without volunteers, registered clubs wouldn’t be able to accomplish all the wonderful things that they do for their local communities, so it’s a natural fit for our industry to support this incredible program.

“Well done to all the volunteers who were recognised at today’s ceremony for their extraordinary work. These people have continued to donate their time and effort to support others, despite the challenges of bushfires, drought, floods and COVID-19.

“I’m proud to represent an industry where 32,000 volunteers help to make clubs such great places.”