Following the state's catastrophic bush fire season, the NSW Rural Fire Service and Gunning community are celebrating local Captain Krystaal Hinds who has been named the 2020 Regional Woman of the Year.
The Gunning and Fish River Rural Fire Brigade Captain was recognised at the NSW Women of the Year Awards on March 5, ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.
The mother of three was nominated for the award back in January, when she was also named Upper Lachlan Shire's 2020 Citizen of the Year on Australia Day.
Both awards recognise Mrs Hinds' significant contribution to her community including volunteering with the NSW RFS.
The organisation's Southern Tablelands Zone manager, Superintendent Peter Alley, shared a few special words about Mrs Hinds the day after the awards ceremony.
"This award is not only a wonderful recognition, but it also validates what we have known locally for some time. Krystaal leads with hard work, humility and importantly by example through mentoring," he said.
"Her role in fostering gender diversity within the brigade stems from a genuine commitment that as a community based volunteer organisation, our brigades should be reflective of our communities. We wholeheartedly congratulate Krystaal for this wonderful achievement," Superintendent Alley said.
Mrs Hinds joined her local brigade in 1998 and has increased female membership by 30 per cent as captain.
She is also a Deputy Group Captain in the Southern Tablelands, delivering state-wide training to NSW Rural Fire Service members on leadership and women in firefighting.
Upper Lachlan Shire mayor John Stafford said Mrs Hinds winning the award was something everyone in the region should take pride in, especially those who volunteer.
"The award is not only justifiable recognition of Krystaal's own strength of character and personal sacrifice, but also goes some way to recognising the tremendous contribution to our state by our RFS men and women, young and old," Cr Stafford said.
Volunteering is in the mother of three's blood, having been involved with several community organisations in Gunning from the time she was a teenager, to when she returned from a brief stint away for university and employment.
While looking after her children and running a successful electrical company with her husband, Mrs Hinds also finds time to help out with Gunning Public School and Gunning Early Learning Centre's Parents and Citizens (P&C) groups.
Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said she was a very proud local member and that it was an honour to witness Mrs Hinds receive the award.
"I'm blown away by Krystaal's award. This is recognition of her leadership and the selfless sacrifice she makes as a young mum. When you look at the fact that she's increased women's participation in her brigade by 30 per cent, she's an inspiration, someone we can all aspire to," Mrs Tuckerman said.
Minister for women Bronnie Taylor congratulated Mrs Hinds on her honour, praising her remarkable efforts to help fire-ravaged communities.
"Krystaal is a true rural champion, selflessly volunteering her time to protect lives, businesses and homes," Mrs Taylor said.
"She leads by example, showing how women can succeed in a male-dominated environment and encouraging them to get involved."
Now in its ninth year, the NSW Women of the Year Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution made by women across NSW to industry, communities and society.
The other 2020 award winners were:
- NSW Premier's Award for Woman of the Year - Professor Maria Kavallaris AM
- NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year - Kirli Saunders
- Lifetime Achievement Award - Christine Strachan
- Young Woman of the Year - Hannah Beder
- Community Hero Award - Justine Lorenz
- NSW Business Woman of the Year - Anneke van den Broek