Helen and Trevor Willis's lives intersected when he renovated the bathroom her parents' Sydney home, setting in motion a chain of events that included marriage, parenthood and a sea change of epic proportions.
It also led Helen to the doorstep of the Tamworth Hockey Association, where she has become an indispensable coaching force.
On Saturday night at the Powerhouse Hotel, the mother of two was named community coach of the year at the Hockey NSW awards.
It is the latest accolade in a mutually beneficial relationship established more than 21 years ago when Helen and Trevor put Sydney in their rear-view mirror after buying a 121-hectare property near Dungowan.
These former city slickers craved serenity now.
Moving to the country was something her husband always wanted to do, Helen said.
"And I've always loved the whole idea of being on a farm," she said, adding: "So it's just something we both always wanted to do.
"So we did a house up in Sydney to make some money ... and buy somewhere out in the bush.
"I think my husband's goal was that he wanted to be sitting on the verandah overlooking a property by the time he was 40. We definitely managed to do that."
The couple raise sheep on the picturesque property, located at the base of a green hill. The couple's eldest child, Dave, was a toddler when they moved to the region. Their daughter, Sarah, was born here.
Last year Sarah was named junior female umpire of the year at the Hockey NSW awards.
On Sunday, Helen was assistant coach for the Northern Inland Thunderbolts under-15 girls side at the annual Regional Challenge at the Tamworth Hockey Complex.
For the past six years she has been head coach of NIAS's hockey program, and last year coached several Tudor Wests sides - from under-11 girls to first-grade women. This year she will focus on Tudor Wests' first- and second-grade women's sides.
Willis - who works at the state government's Department of Planning and Environment in Tamworth - is also assistant coach of the Blues' under-15 girls side - the state's second XI.
In 2018, she was named NIAS coach of the year and Tamworth Regional Council coach of the year.
In December, Helen and Trevor celebrated 28 years of marriage. "It's been great," she said of the move to the country. "We wouldn't change a thing."
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