Broken Hill student named Volunteer of the Year

The school captain at Burke Ward Public School has been given the top award at the annual event celebrating the State's volunteers.

Image: Determined to contribute: Alister Henskens with Abbie Kelly at the awards ceremony.

Broken Hill student Abbie Kelly has been awarded NSW's top volunteering accolade for her outstanding contribution to charitable causes.

The 12-year-old Burke Ward Public School captain was yesterday named NSW Volunteer of the Year and NSW Young Volunteer of the Year.

Burke Ward Public School principal Kate Hogg said the school and wider community were extremely proud of Abbie.

"We are absolutely blown away,” Mrs Hogg said. “She is one in a million and her drive is unbelievable.”

Mrs Hogg said Abbie had a natural inclination toward helping others and had been doing so at the school since Kindy.

“She is always asking, ‘What can we do to make things better?’,” Mrs Hogg said.

She said watching students grow into community-minded citizens was part of what made teaching so special.

“The idea that we are building good people and the sense that the values we have in public education are being translated and taken into the community is important,” she said.

Mrs Hogg said the school would acknowledge Abbie’s achievement on Monday when she returned to school after visiting Sydney for the award ceremony.

Speaking to media after yesterday’s ceremony in Sydney, Abbie’s mother Sophie Angell said it had been a surprise: “It’s a big shock for a 12-year-old from Broken Hill to being in the big smoke and getting this award.”

Abbie took the honour in her stride and said helping people was her “favourite thing to do” because of the positive impact it had.

“I want to be a CO of a charity or create my own charity [when I grow up],” Abbie said.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said volunteers were the glue that helped bind communities together and the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards recognised their invaluable contributions across the state.

“I congratulate Abbie who is an inspiring young woman and a very deserving recipient of this years’ Volunteer of the Year Award,” Mr Henskens said.

“At just 12 years old, Abbie is already a tireless fundraiser and community advocate, and is determined to contribute to the efforts to find a cure for cancer.”

Abbie volunteers for several community and national organisations including Clean-Up Australia Day, Land Care and National Tree Planting Day. She volunteers at Sea Scouts, stars in local theatre productions and has had her own radio show.

Abbie’s charitable works will continue next week when Broken Hill community takes part in Abbie’s Crazy Sock Day to raise funds for cancer research charity, Love Your Sister.

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are run by The Centre for Volunteering and have grown to become one of the nation’s largest celebrations of volunteering.

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