Glen Innes woman, Mary Hollingworth, has been recognised on the public stage this NSW Women’s Week for her ongoing advocacy and support for rural women.
Mary was named as the winner of the 2023 NSW Woman of the Year Community Hero Award at a special ceremony in Sydney on International Women’s Day.
“Mary is the absolute embodiment of what a community hero is and everyone who knows her will agree this award is justly deserved,” said Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall.
Mary Hollingworth and Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall.
Not only is Mary the Chair of the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering and a long-term volunteer with the Rural Women’s Network, but she has also been an active member of the Glen Innes Red Cross and was a member of the Glen Innes Show Society Ladies Auxiliary for 25 years.
She has worked tirelessly, along with others, to deliver 500 events, seminars, functions, information and training sessions for rural women and families in the Glen Innes, Deepwater and Tenterfield regions.
Mary believes advocating for, supporting and empowering rural women is more important than ever in 2023.
“It’s even more important now than 20 years ago with the increasing decline of services in NSW like education, banking, transport and health,” she said.
“For example, rural families who used to access their bank in their local town might now have to travel hours for access and similarly with health services.
“It’s absolutely important and it’s absolutely essential that all levels of government commit to ensuring that rural women have access to services and skills that will empower them to keep their communities alive and vibrant for their families.”
Days after receiving the award, Mary said she is still overwhelmed by the recognition and encourages other older women in the community to mentor the younger generation of women coming through the volunteering ranks.
“I still feel quite overwhelmed that someone like me, who I consider a willing volunteer who has done my bit wherever I can for many years, has been acknowledged,” Mary said.
“And as always, it’s never just about the one person, but about the team of people that you work with.
“I encourage those of us rural women who are getting further down our journey to share our wealth of knowledge and experience with the younger women, so, not only will they contribute and volunteer, but be empowered to take the opportunity to take on the bigger roles.”