Helen Stuenkel awarded Anne Clarke Service Award

Tumut Netball Association Secretary Helen Stuenkel was awarded the Netball NSW Anne Clark Service Award.

Anyone who knows anything about Tumut Netball Association knows just what Helen Stuenkel means to the local competition and what she has done to support Tumut representative teams for more than three decades. 

The long serving secretary has been involved with the club since the last 1980s and joined the committee in various roles, serving as Vice President for two years and Treasurer for three years between 1993 until 1999, before she was eventually appointed secretary; a role she has remained in for 22 years. 

Stuenkel fundraised to have the Margaret Butler building built in 1993, selling bricks off in what seemed a gigantic task 28 years ago, while the popular administrator has been the backbone of Tumut representative netball since 1993, orchestrating the association’s regular attendance at state age titles, whilst also managing a team every year for 28 years. 

On Wednesday November 10, Stuenkel was awarded the coveted Anne Clark BEM Service Award by Netball NSW for her service to the sport and the Tumut Netball Association.

The award acknowledges individuals and their significant contribution to the development of netball at an Association level and their outstanding service to the sport for a period of at least 10 years.

Rodney Watson OAM, former Director of Netball NSW from 2003 to 2019, nominated Stuenkel for the prestigious award, and he noted various reasons when doing so.

Some projects include Stuenkel’s selling of bricks that led to the construction of the Margaret Butler building that was erected in 1993, her work with the local competition since the late 1980’s and her drive when building and maintaining Tumut Representative sides and their yearly presence at NSW State Age carnivals.

“Helen’s volunteer contribution to the Tumut Netball Association has been outstanding and epitomises the values of the Anne Clark Service Award,” Mr Watson said.

“It is believed that she would be a very worthy recipient of this prestigious award.”

Netball NSW President Louise Sullivan heaped praise on Stuenkel, highlighting why she deserved the award.

“The Anne Clark Service Award is one of our most prestigious awards for our community clubs and it recognises outstanding service at the community level,” Mrs Sullivan said. 

“Helen’s work at the community level epitomises the value of that award, and we only award up to five of these a year, so it is a really sought-after award.

“It is an award that recognises quite contributors that don’t seek recognition for their efforts. Helen is incredibly modest, and she has done her job for decades without wanting anything back and purely for the love of the sport.

“Without people like Helen, we would not be able to foster the sport at a local level.”

The Tumut secretary was completely caught off guard when finding out she was receiving the Anne Clark award during a Zoom meeting with Netball NSW delegates.

“It was a surprise, and I knew nothing about it,” Mrs Stuenkel said.

“I was a little bit dumfounded. I was teary I suppose. I just didn’t expect it.”

Stuenkel’s involvement with the association is as strong as ever, with the secretary organising rep netball, setting draws, allocating umpires, dealing with media and basically making sure everything is ready ahead of each local and representative season.

“I probably eat, drink and sleep netball,” Mrs Stuenkel laughed. 

“Just ask my husband, he will tell you, it’s always netball, but I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. It’s just part of my daily life.”

Having had three daughters progress through the junior ranks of the Tumut Netball Association, before they each started coaching and managing representative teams over the years, Stuenkel said her involvement with the association simply grew as the years went by. 

“I suppose I got involved because my girls all played,” Mrs Stuenkel said.

“Kylie, Heidi and Kadie. They all came through netball and were involved with teams and now my granddaughter Brie, she is a B-badged umpire.”

The years aren’t catching up on Mrs Stuenkel either and when asked if she would start to slow down, she had a typically short but effective reply.

“Probably not,” Mts Stuenkel laughed.

“There’s too much to do and I just love it.”