Buxton RFS's Kim Hill named NSW Volunteer of the Year

Buxton RFS's Kim Hill named NSW Volunteer of the Year

We already know she's a star here in Macarthur, but now the rest of the state does too.

Buxton RFS's Kim Hill has just been named the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year.

Ms Hill was selected from more than 100 other finalists and 120,000 nominees across the state.

Her award comes on the back of tireless efforts coordinating donations during the devastating 2019/20 fire season, including the deadly Green Wattle Creek blaze.

Ms Hill said she was "lost for words" at winning the state title today.

"It's amazing, there are so many worthy finalists, I'm just blown away," she said.

"It really hasn't sunk in yet.

"I'm extremely honoured, especially in this year of all years.

"The amount of help that's been out there during the fires and Covid, first responders working on everything in both of those events - it's overwhelming.

"To even be nominated in one of the most difficult years, let alone be a finalist and win is just - wow. I'm lost for words."

Ms Hill said she'd spoken to her family since the ceremony and everyone was "absolutely wrapped" to hear the news.

A major part of the Buxton resident's winning efforts was the collection and distribution of donated items.

Ms Hill and Picton CWA's Kerrie O'Grady helped create the Balmoral Village Recovery Hub, collecting 12 shipping containers worth of food, clothing and other items for the community affected by the fires.

The 43-year-old also spearheaded fundraising efforts for the soon-to-be-opened Telopea Park firetruck memorial playground in Buxton, securing $200,000 for its creation.

The playground honours Horsley Park RFS firefighters Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer, who lost their lives a year ago when fighting the Green Wattle Creek bushfire in Buxton.

Ms Hill told the Advertiser earlier this year that she wanted the playground to be a place of joy, where Mr Keaton and Mr O'Dwyer's children and families could come to remember them and have a happy time.

She said the Buxton and Horsley Park brigades had become very close in the past 12 months, and expected that friendship to continue.

"I'm sure an volunteer will tell you, you do it for your community, not for a pat on the back," Ms Hill said upon receiving her regional award in September.

"If anyone can donate any time whatsover to any cause for volunteering, it's so rewarding.

"Just being able to put a smile on someone's face, to help them to move that little bit forward, is more rewarding than anything you can imagine."

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 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and ClubsNSW.

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the award couldn't have gone to a more deserving person.

"Kim Hill served on the frontline during the bushfires while her own house came under threat and was the glue that held her community together during the incredibly challenging weeks and months that followed," he said.

"Kim 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.

"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."

Centre for Volunteering chief executive Gemma Rygate said the past year had highlighted the incredible, selfless work of volunteers across NSW.

"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," she said.

"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."

Ms Hill has just started a new job with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency as the recovery support officer for Wollondilly.

"I'm so excited by the role," she said.

"It means that I can be there to help the community, help the council, coordinate things in the reocvery process and look at building us up to prepare for the next time - because there will be a next time. It's inevitable - we live in Australia.

"It's my job to help find those gaps and holes in our processes now so we can eliminate them before the next big fire."

The Telopea Park memorial firetruck playground will be officially opened on Saturday, December 5.

This story Buxton RFS's Kim Hill named NSW Volunteer of the Year first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.