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Lithgow humbled by top NSWRL community award

Lithgow Bears were today presented with the award for Grassroots Club of the Year by NSWRL General Manager - Football Barrie-Jon Mather and True Blue Jamie Soward. 

The Bears, a proud 40-year-old club in the Western Region of NSW, were presented the award at their home ground Tony Luchetti Sportsground.

“It means a lot to win an award like this,” Lithgow Vice-President Ben Spittles said. 

“Just to get a bit of appreciation for the effort that we all put in. 

“Being a small club and a very small committee, volunteers are very hard to come by and with the small bunch of committee members we do have everyone does an extremely good job. 

“It is a small local club with a lot of local businesses sponsoring us, so as a club we always try to give back to those businesses and the juniors base as much as we can.” 

Lithgow have had a challenging year that started with the deadly bushfires that ravaged much of NSW. The Bears rallied together to help their community and provided food, drink and shower facilities at their sports ground to aid fire crews and families who had lost their homes. 

Through the COVID-19 pandemic they registered over 50 players in the Mid-West Cup competitions and kept members of their club active during the COVID-19 lockdown by offering at home training programs and Zoom gym sessions. 

The loss of two young players to suicide two years ago has been a driving force behind the club’s ongoing commitment to the fight against mental illness and suicide prevention, sparking initiatives including the annual Lithgow Walk n Talk, a Memorial Shield game and fundraisers.

“I think all of volunteers this year across the state have been truly amazing,” Mather said.

“The Lithgow Bears have shown some real commitment to the community as a whole, not just a rugby league club, they’ve supported the bushfire efforts at the start of the year and obviously everyone’s worked really hard to get the game through the COVID pandemic. 

“They’ve also shown a commitment to mental health suicide prevention in the wider community around Lithgow. 

“Not just clubs like this but all the volunteers across the state as well - there is no game without those volunteers and without a club like Lithgow we’re not able to play the game.”