Waikanae Rugby Football Club junior co-convener Jane Chamberlain has won the Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year at the 2020 ASB Rugby Awards.
Despite winning the Horowhenua Kāpiti Rugby Union (HKRU) Volunteer of the Year award, it was still a shock for Jane to win the national award as she watched them on television in December.
"It was a bit unexpected," she said.
Due to Covid-19 there was no big fanfare for the awards, with the ceremony held on television and winners finding out from their homes on the night.
"A week before the awards I got a phone call from HKRU saying the NZRU was asking for some photos of me.
"I'm good at avoiding photos, so I went on a massive hunt for some and just assumed this was what they were asking all the nominees for.
"It was a surprise to see a photo of myself saying I had won the award when we were watching the programme.
"I was a little bit guttered that there was no ceremony to attend but it was nice that I didn't have to do a speech on the spot."
With Waikanae belonging to the HKRU, Jane was nominated by the union with chief executive officer Corey Kennett congratulating Jane on her award and commitment to the community.
"We'd like to congratulate Jane on her award," he said.
"It's due recognition for all of her hard work, time and dedication she has given to our great game, and especially to the Waikanae rugby community."
Jane jointly runs the junior rugby programme at Waikanae with Jaime Bradbury which has almost 200 juniors and had 14 teams during the 2020 season.
The role has included a large amount of administrating, liaising between both the HKRU and Wellington Rugby Football Union, organising events, fundraising and starting up Sense Rugby in the region.
In 2019, Waikanae became the first club in New Zealand to support Sense Rugby, a rugby based occupational therapy programme designed to help kids which usually find it hard to be part of a sports team.
"We are the first club in New Zealand to support Sense Rugby," Jane said.
"For some of our rugby families it now means that all their kids can play rugby and be part of the sport.
"They're a group of kids that are largely excluded from mainstream sports because they don't fit into that normal mix.
"It's hard for them to consistently be part of the team, so it's really great that we as a club are able to be supportive in that way."
With nearly 200 juniors the job is not small, especially with an unexpected increase in numbers during a Covid-disrupted season.
With one year under their belts as the junior conveners before Covid-19, the pair found their role especially busy with all the additional guidelines given to them down the chain by the HKRU before having to decipher it into a practical process for the club.
"No club is run by a single person.
"There is no way the award is just about me, this award is a reflection of an amazing committee and club.
"Everyone plays a part, even just getting your kids to and from training, running barbecues, helping with fundraising and coaching."
Jane and her husband became involved in the club through sponsorship, before their children reached the age of being able to play.
Now, two of their three children are involved in the junior programme.
"It's such a family club.
"There's a lot of support between the juniors and seniors, it's a great community asset that we need to look after.
"There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes."
Truly believing in the benefits of children playing sport, "There are so many benefits for kids playing sport.
"It's good for them physically and mentally to be outside playing.
"We want to continue encouraging them to get outside and play, volunteers are a big part of making this happen."