Today we celebrated the remarkable resilience, energy and commitment of our volunteers at the virtual North West Sydney regional ceremony for the 2021 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.

From the Hills to the Hawkesbury there were so many fantastic stories that came to light.

More than 1200 Castle Hill United Football Club players get a run every week thanks to the energy of Christopher Kirk, who mentors referees, sets up fields, makes sure everyone has kit, trains teams and plays and referees himself – all after a week’s work!

As a member of Parramatta Council’s Community Care Volunteer Team, Robin Deaves, went above and beyond when COVID hit pause on their services, with regular calls to elderly people in the program to make sure they were okay.

The CWA Castle Hill branch raised more than $10,000 by sewing face masks. And, at just 18, our Young Volunteer of the Year Ethan Harithupan already shows both leadership and initiative beyond his years for St John’s Ambulance.

Volunteer of the Year and Adult Volunteer of the Year – Christopher Kirk

Chris is an outstanding volunteer with the Castle Hill United Football Club where he holds a number of positions on the committee. Inspecting the fields and player safety is his number one priority, he also line marks, is a senior referee, mentor, coach and player himself. Chris really fits as much football as he can into the weekend. Chris mentors a growing junior referee program, where he provides such an inclusive environment for all, including those facing barriers. Chris always goes out of his way to ensure that everyone has a great player experience and as a club with over 1200 members, this is no small feat. Chris gets things done behind the scenes at the club and is looked up to, particularly by the junior members.

Young Volunteer of the Year – Ethan Harithupan

As a volunteer in St John Ambulance, Ethan is a member the Event Health Services Division and has already distinguished himself as a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer within the organisation. Ethan not only treats the public, he also trains and imparts knowledge to other volunteers to help them improve their own practice and clinical skills. He is an inspiration to young members of the division who see that it is possible to be clinically proficient at a young age.  Ethan is enthusiastic about everything he does and puts more than 100% into everything.

Senior Volunteer of the Year – Robin Deaves

As a member, and now team leader, of Parramatta Council’s Community Care Volunteer Team, Robin works with elderly people in the local area to provide opportunities for social interaction. The Blaxlands Ridge resident has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills with a genuine compassion, respect and understanding of vulnerable people. In 2020, when COVID-19 forced activities to be suspended, Robin regularly contacted each participant to make sure they were okay.

Volunteer Team of the Year – CWA of NSW, Castle Hill Branch

To meet growing demand for face masks in 2020, the CWA Castle Hill Branch held a sewing bee with two sessions a day. Through Facebook and COVID safe in person sales, the team raised more than $10,000 to support the Women’s Sanctuary at Castle Hill and St Gabriel’s School, Castle Hill.

The 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.