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Volunteer of the Year raps selfless colleagues

Kiama Knights JRLFC Secretary, Kristie Laird has heaped praise on her club colleagues after she was presented with the 2020 Gordon Lowrie New South Wales Volunteer of the Year and Volunteer of the Year (Southern Region) awards on Sunday. 

Laird was rewarded for her tireless work during this year's Rugby League season that was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She assisted with the mental wellbeing of the local community while also acting as the Club’s Social Media Manager, Photographer and Committee member. 

Laird lauded the work of her fellow committee members who were determined to improve participation numbers after they declined in 2017. She is also credited for helping change the culture of the club which contributed to more registrations in the past three seasons. 

“I was delighted when I found out I had been selected as the winner of these two prestigious awards. It’s a huge honour,” Laird told nswrl.com.au.

“But I don’t do it for the acknowledgement. For me, it’s all about the kids and our Committee has been working hard to build our Club and create a strong, positive culture that people want to be part of.

“We’ve almost doubled our registrations in the last three seasons so we’re definitely heading in the right direction.

“This year has certainly been a real team effort. We did everything in our power to make sure our Club was ready for when the competition resumed on 26 July.”

Laird has been part of the Knights for the past seven years, first volunteering as a team manager before joining the committee in 2018, wanting to make a difference.

She has strong family ties to the club with her sons currently playing in the Under 8s and Under 11s respectively while her husband has been part of the Knights since he was four years old. 

Junior Knights President Carl Middleton couldn’t speak highly enough of the contribution that Laird ha

s made.

He said the award was a fitting reflection of her club-first approach that has seen participation numbers increase by 172 per cent. 

“I put the nomination in purely because of the extensive work that Kristie does for the club,” Middleton said.

“A lot of the work she does comes at the sacrifice of her own kids and family. She will take time out of watching her kids play because she also cares about the others at the club.

“She cares about the kids on and off the paddock where she will focus on their wellbeing.

“You always get good people involved in a club and people just follow. We’re very fortunate to have her at the club and for her to be recognised in the field that we have had is very good.”

The NSWRL Volunteer of the Year awards recognise the invaluable contribution made by almost 25,000 people who give up their time as volunteers, officials, coaches and referees every season. They also acknowledge the support given to the wider community as well as to the Rugby League community.

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler spoke of the importance of having people involved like Laird who are continuously looking to provide local communities with the best Rugby League environments possible. 

“I saw the kids and what they had to say about Kristie, it doesn’t matter what we say, it’s about the kids because that is what this is all about,’ Fittler said.

“Everyone is so busy these days, we just need to realise that giving back to the community makes you feel good but it’s also about giving people encouragement and making environments like this a better place."