Grafton ‘stalwart’ receives prestigious Hockey NSW award
THOSE that have anything to do with hockey in Grafton know of hardworking character Margaret Francis.
The Grafton Hockey Association facilities manager has been presented the prestigious Hockey NSW Distinguished Long Service Award for 2019 and subsequently progresses to the Sport NSW Community Sport Awards later in the year.
A true stalwart at GHA, Francis has helped the region blossom into one of the finest regional hockey hubs in the country.
With her help, GHA was able to build a second synthetic field as well as the Bascule Bunkhouse at the Oliver St complex, but Francis has played a much bigger part in the community.
Operating out of the Bunkhouse at GHA headquarters, Francis fed and assisted NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers unconditionally during last year’s devastating bushfires.
Former Kookaburra and Grafton product Brent Livermore detailed just how much Francis means to the GHA and the wider community.
“Margaret has been the back bone of GHA in a challenging country town so passionate about sport, and especially hockey,” Livermore said.
“She has a heart of gold and always lead her team to secure and promote a successful organisation with her tireless work, efforts and passion to build Grafton Hockey to where it is today.
“Margaret was a major driver in the success of building a centre with two synthetic water bases and Bascule bunk house. At times when the community needed support around the SES and Fire services she would work tirelessly for months on end which would often be in the hot summer days over Christmas.”
Livermore said he admires her hard work, and was thankful for all she had done to nurture the hockey community.
“Marg is always the first there and last to leave in her role, working herself past exhaustion in order to support and deliver to the community, members and guest to the Grafton Hockey Centre,” he said.
“Marg would often whisper to me – ‘this will be my last year, by time we end this year we have this paid off the centre, I just want to get them debt free’.
“Every year she keeps on coming back as they upgrade or finish things off.”
Hockey NSW CEO David Thompson thanked Francis for giving so much to the association and the sport itself.
“People like Margaret are the heart and soul of grassroots hockey in NSW. She has dedicated dozens of years to building and improving Grafton Hockey Association,” Thompson said.
“Her tireless work over the years has not only benefited the local hockey community, but has also had an impact on the wider Northern Rivers area during times of emergency.
“We are proud to have awarded Margaret our Hockey NSW Community Distinguished Long Service award earlier this year, and to have subsequently nominated her for this Sport NSW award.”
While the winners of the 2020 NSW Community Sports Awards will be revealed later this year, details of the event are yet to be confirmed.