Elizabeth Blowes was awarded Adult Volunteer of the Year at the prestigious third annual Sports Volunteer Awards Night organised by Wests Group Macarthur.

The event at West Leagues was a wonderful celebration of the behind-the-scenes heroes in our community who keep sport running in Macarthur every weekend.

Wiping away tears of joy as she posed for photographs with the giant $1000 cheque, a highly emotional Ms Blowes said, “It’s such a team effort and I’m really just accepting this for everybody. Everybody contributes to this. I’m incredibly proud to have been part of this club for 25 years and I’m really proud to be a one club gal at Campbelltown, Campbelltown District Netball is my second home.”

Ms Blowes, has worked tirelessly to build Campbelltown District Netball Club over the last 25 years. She is incredibly dedicated to investment in local sport and strongly believes their club plays an important role in increasing access to opportunities for local kids to be able to play netball.

“Investment in our local netball is crucial, particularly because we are under pressure from other sports. It’s so important that we keep providing opportunities for our young kids who play the game we love in our local area,” she said.

Held to coincide with National Volunteer Week, the Wests’ Sports Volunteer Awards recognised individuals who had dedicated anywhere from 10 years to 40 years of service to sport in the Macarthur area.

The two Mayors present, Dr George Greiss (Campbelltown) and Cr Ashley Cagney (Camden) applauded West Group’s immense contribution to the Macarthur community through the years.

“West Group Macarthur has a remarkable 50-year history as the biggest supporter of sport right across the Macarthur region,” said Martin Bullock, Chair of Wests’ Sports Management Committee.

“Now this commitment, combined with our commitment to numerous significant charities and community causes, provides us with a truly deep understanding of the value of the many volunteers that support all these activities.”

Father and daughter Steven and Michelle Bryce from Wests Hockey Club both won awards in their categories, 40 years of service and 15 years of service respectively. The family has been involved with the club for three generations now, with Michelle’s sons starting their first season of hockey this year.

Mr Bryce said, “It’s good to be able to give back to the community. The importance of sport runs through three generations now with my grandkids playing as well. We lost my wife a few years ago and she also used to be really involved, so it’s a way to honour her and all her hard work too.”

The evening’s other big award – Youth Volunteer of the Year – went to Elizabeth Dyet, who has already made a significant impact on the sporting community at only 19 years old. She did not expect to win the award, but was absolutely ecstatic to be recognised for all her hard work.

Sport has played an incredibly important role in the Dyet family, and Ms Dyet has been an active participant of the Wests Hockey Club as both a player and a volunteer for most of her life. She is also coaching the Under 8’s team at the club this year.

She said, “I’ve actually been nominated before, but I really didn’t expect it this time… I started out when I was really little and I’ve been out at hockey since I was born. I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid. Both my parents are life members and my sister is involved with the club too, so I’ve watched the fields be built and I’ve watched the community be built over the years.”

Dynamic dancing duo Lollipop Lyra provided lively entertainment between awards, and later in the evening, talented comedy ventriloquist Darren Carr had the audience in stitches.

Former Olympian Sarah Ryan did a stellar job as MC, keeping the audience engaged throughout the night, especially during a panel discussion with three up-and-coming young guns on the Australian sporting scene – netball player Amy Sligar, sprinter Josh Azzopardi and diver Sam Fricker.

One strong message came from all these panellists: their lives now as athletes would not have been possible without the volunteers’ behind-the-scenes work that helped foster their love for sport from such young ages!

–  Emily Kaine

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