WINGHAM resident Ann Thorburn was treated to a night of glamour and inspiration as a finalist in the 2013 Holden Volunteer of the Year awards.
Ann attended the star studded NRL One Community Awards in Sydney where the winner of her category was announced.
Ann said she knew she wouldn't win but enjoyed a night she will never forget. There were more than 350 guests at the Town Hall including NRL club officials, players, sponsors politicians and other award nominees. Ann was fortunate enough to share a table with Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who Ann said was "just lovely."
NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert was also on her table. A former Comboyne boy, he toured with the first Australian Schoolboys team in 1972 and later carved out a successful career with Eastern Suburbs, Manly and Wests. He represented Australia in 1975.
"It was great to be with him on the night," said Ann.
Ann, who volunteers her time for Group Three Junior Rugby League had been nominated for her 21 year commitment to rugby league.
"Being involved in rugby league is wonderful especially when you are dealing with children," said Ann. "I don't think that I will ever have the heart to retire, I love the job so much."
Ann said the NRL was very generous treating Ann and her husband to a "beautiful lunch," in Darling Harbour and a night at the Novotel. Joined at the awards ceremony by her son and daughter, Ann described her day as "hectic." But there were many highlights for Ann including meeting the CRL chief executive Terry Quinn who she describes as "so lovely," and getting to know more about the NRL players.
"It was so nice to learn that many of the players do much more than play football."
Canberra captain Terry Campese took out top honours on the night for his 'courage and commitment off the field to raise more than $100,000 for his community. With eight awards given out, Ann said the man who won the Holden Volunteer of the Year award was "amazing." Grahame Wagener established a Junior Disability Rugby League team in Sydney's Sutherland Shire. "Imagine how hard that would be," said Ann.
Ann has been volunteering for Rugby League since 1983 when her son started playing as a six year old.
She was elected to the Group Three Junior Rugby League executive in 1989.
Ann has a family of three sons and two daughters. Two of her sons played rugby league.
Her son David is the finance service manager of Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust and Ann said they get some great seats for NRL games at Alliance Stadium.