QUEANBEYAN Whites 'first lady' Franca Jones has shown passion for grass roots sport at the club for around 30 years now, and her remarkable efforts were recognised last week when she was awarded volunteer of the year.
Wife to current Whites president David Jones, she became the first female to win the accolade at the ACT Rugby Union MacDougall Medal awards ceremony in Canberra last Friday night.
She has committed much of her life to the club, and besides being in administration roles since 2009 when husband David became the president, she has volunteered her time during game days, club fundraisers, and helped sponsor junior players since marrying David in the mid 1980s.
In the late '80s she became the first female to win the president's trophy at the club, but her award last week was the first time she had been recognised by the ACTRU.
She said it was a nice accolade that showed the work the Whites do for grassroots rugby.
"I started working with junior Whites rugby, then I was on the committee at St Edmund's rugby for 10 years, and then went to senior Whites," said Jones.
"I've always done something, be it canteen, merchandise, at the front, and I've been doing sponsorship at the club for five years."
Jones labelled her nomination for the award as "delightful" and "a surprise" as she did not know about her nomination, or who nominated here, where as the other four nominees did.
"It was the surprise of being acknowledged by the rest of our rugby club to put the effort in to nominate me," she said.
"In the old days it was just men and rugby, but through my involvement I've been able to get our women back on the paddock, and a lot of effort has also gone into that."
The Australian Rugby Union pulled their local club funding scheme 10 years ago, and Jones said volunteering in the game was now the lifeblood of the sport.