THEY'RE the people usually behind the scenes, toiling away and not expecting any reward in return. They're volunteers.
They are the lifeblood of communities and the best of the best were rewarded yesterday in Armidale.
Wee Waa's Jennifer Parish was named the 2012 New England Northern Inland Volunteer of the Year for her contribution to the community and her extensive and innovative fundraising over a 25- year period.
"The New England Northern Inland region's nominees are all of an exceptional standard but the judges felt that Jenny's tireless dedication to fundraising in Wee Waa stood out from the rest," NSW Volunteer of the Year award manager Kristin Sinclair said.
"There are tens of thousands of volunteers in this region, and just a handful of them were nominated.
"We challenge every person, not-for-profit organisation and community group to nominate a volunteer or volunteer team in 2013 to really showcase New England Northern Inland's volunteers to the rest of NSW."
Mrs Parish is a great supporter of her local community from pony club to people facing medical hardship.
She usually works alone and very rarely has a committee behind her for her varied charitable events.
Mrs Parish has a great concern for the wellbeing and care of others less fortunate in the community.
Her dedication to fundraising events is done tirelessly and she gives her time and talents freely to help others.
Mrs Parish has fundraised for more than 25 years, raising at least $300,000 for local charities and the community of Wee Waa, before expenses.
She will receive a $300 donation to the not-for-profit charity of her choice.
Mrs Parish is now in the running to win the 2012 NSW Volunteer of the Year award, with the winner to be announced by Citizenship and Communities Minister Victor Dominello at the state award ceremony on December 5 in Sydney.
George Sanderson from Narrabri was named the 2012 New England Northern Inland Senior Volunteer of the Year and the Opportunity Shop Glen Innes Volunteer Team won the 2012 New England Northern Inland Volunteer Team of the Year award.
Mr Sanderson was a founding member of the Narrabri HQ Rural Fire Brigade, a very busy volunteer brigade and has been its captain for several years.
The Opportunity Shop Glen Innes had 45 volunteers. These women, many of whom are widows with many years of understated service to the shop, work to raise funds to be distributed to deserving groups in the local community.
Both winners will receive a $200 donation for their organisation.
Among the other individuals recognised were Tamworth's Neil Gaffney for his work with the Tamworth Basketball Association for 25 years, Pat Lingwood of Tamworth, who volunteered at the Diabetes Foundation for 35 years before she retired from volunteering earlier this year, Bruce Adams and the nine volunteers on the Tamworth Regional Seniors Week organising committee and Val Schaefer and the Destination Tamworth Visitor Services' 127 volunteers.
The annual NSW Volunteer of the Year Award program recognises the efforts and achievements of the state's millions of volunteers.