Grafton Hockey legend honoured with prestigious award

FOR more than 25 years, Margaret Francis has been involved with Grafton Hockey Association in one way or another, and her dedication to the sport and the association's facilities has seen her receive one of Sport NSW's most prestigious awards.

For her contribution to hockey, last week Francis was honoured with a Distinguished Long Service Award at the 2020 NSW Community Sports Awards.

The current facilities manager for GHA, Francis' true dedication and service has been to the GHA's facilities where she was one of the major drivers in the success of building a centre with two synthetic water-based hockey fields, as well as the Bascule Bunkhouse.

The Bunkhouse sleeps more than 80 people and is used by many community and sporting groups, as well as the SES and Rural Fire Service during emergencies, such as the recent bushfires earlier this year.

During these times, Francis sometimes worked for upwards of 12 to 16 hours a day for weeks or months on end cooking and cleaning for the firefighters and volunteers.

The Hockey Centre becomes an integral community facility during these times, in large part due her selfless contribution.

Sport NSW chairwoman, Carolyn Campbell said Francis was a worthy award recipient.

"Sport in NSW relies on people such as Margaret who have voluntarily dedicated their time over many decades. Put simply, sport would not exist without them. It is fitting these Distinguished Long Service Award recipients are recognised and honoured," Ms Campbell said.

"Without these hardworking, selfless volunteers, tens of thousands of boys and girls, men and women, would not be able to enjoy the health, social and community benefits sport provides. Sport remains at the heart of communities across NSW and has the unique ability to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together."

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