Last night at the John Eales Medal awards night, Chris Hicks from Penrith District Junior Rugby Union (PDJRU), was presented the inaugural HSBC Volunteer of the Year award for his contribution and commitment to rugby within his community. Hicks was selected from hundreds of nominees across Australia.
Commenting on the win, Hicks said: “It’s an honour to be recognised by the Australian Rugby Union and HSBC, and to be given an opportunity to attend the John Eales Medal awards night. The growth of rugby in Sydney’s west is extremely important to me and winning this award is a testament to rugby’s development in the west.”
Hicks won the prestigious award because of his involvement in spreading the sport across the area through his involvement with the Penrith District Junior Rugby Union (PDJRU) Academy including coaching the PDJRU Under 12s to a state championship this season.
Aron Power from PDJRU, who nominated Chris for the award, believes it was a well-deserved accolade: “Rugby in Penrith has gone from strength-to-strength, and much of that growth can be attributed to Chris ' hard work. He has invested significant time to help rugby grow at a grassroots level and his contribution to different clubs in the region is invaluable. It’s great to see him rewarded for his efforts, and I hope he can continue to be involved in the Penrith club for years to come.”
There were also awards for Bill Coulter (HSBC Lifetime Volunteer of the Year) and Jessie Treherne (HSBC Young Volunteer of the Year).
Coulter has been recognised for his work with the Bendigo Rugby Union Club, a nursery he has been a part of since 1979. His record of service to the game in Bendigo includes a long list of accolades, having spent time as a player, secretary, treasurer, president, team manager and coach.
Treherne is a die-hard Melbourne Rebels fan whose passion is equally channelled into the Footscray Rugby Club – a club which she has been involved with for the past eight years. Treherne has coached a number of junior pathway sides, as well as overseeing the birth of the Western Districts women’s rugby team.
Currently in its first year, the HSBC Volunteer of the Year is a joint initiative launched between HSBC and the Australian Rugby Union to recognise the efforts and skills of people who have contributed to the development, promotion and advancement of Rugby Union within Australia.
FOX SPORTS commentator Greg Clark, one of the members of the judging panel, hopes the award inspires further growth in community rugby and volunteering.
“Chris Hicks’ efforts and contribution to rugby in Australia is outstanding and we are pleased to be able to acknowledge him. It is individuals, like him who drive the growth of community rugby within Australia and we look forward to hearing about the continued success of Chris Hicks and the PDJRU,” he said.
Vic Wolff, Head of Marketing for HSBC in Australia said: “HSBC is delighted to award Chris Hicks of the Penrith District Junior Rugby Union with the 2014 HSBC Volunteer of the Year award for his contribution to the community and his club. We believe rugby demonstrates important values both on and off the pitch, which are shared by HSBC and rugby fans like Chris who invest time and energy to help this fantastic sport thrive. "
"Through HSBC’s support of the volunteer programme, we hope to inspire more rugby supporters to get involved in grassroots rugby in Australia.”