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Maitland Local Woman of the Year Evelyn Stonham on the ball

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Football fanatic Evelyn Stonham has kicked another goal after being named the 2024 Maitland Local Woman of the Year.

The proud resident, who was also recognised for her significant work within the community, beat an impressive field for the accolade.

Jenny Cridland, Stacy Jacobs, Dr Sally Keir and Leanne White were each Highly Commended while Judy Hicks, Emily Baitch, Judith Gargosky, Cheryl Lucas, Camilla Callinan, Melissa Chandler, Alanna Vial and Lyn Warner were also worthy nominees.

2024 Maitland Local Woman of the Year Evelyn Stonham and Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison.

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison, as well as Paterson MP Meryl Swanson, congratulated Ms Stonham at an event on Friday night (1 March), co-hosted with the Women’s Network (Hunter NSW).

She’s been dedicated to the sport in Maitland and the greater Hunter for more than 40 years with the Maitland Junior Football Club, Newcastle Jets and Northern NSW Football (NNSWF).

In 2023, the organisation boasted in excess of 1,000 players.

At the time, Ms Stonham was quoted as saying: “Of the members aged five-to65, 33% of them are female, so we are really happy. However, we won’t stop until we reach 50-50 participation”.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, on 8 March, inspires inclusion.

And, Ms Stonham certainly does that.

She currently holds the role of secretary/registrar and her dedication to the organisation knows no bounds.

“I’m stunned,” Ms Stonham said.

“There were so many deserving nominees.

“Without everyone doing what they do for our community, we don’t have a community.

“So, I congratulate all of them.

“I humbly accept this honour as the 2024 Maitland Local Woman of the Year.”

But, her life isn’t all football; she’s a talented netballer and softball player, too.

Ms Stonham’s also had a long career as a registered nurse and later in WHS.

“This is such a well-deserved honour for Evelyn, her long-term contribution to our community through football has seen the game grow and grow each season,” Ms Aitchison said.

“When her son Matt was diagnosed a number of years ago with brain cancer, her response was to link the club with the Mark Hughes Foundation, raising many thousands of dollars for the foundation.

“Maitland Juniors also supports Carries Place with regular donations.

“They were the first club to carry the Dollys Dream banner for Dollys Dream in NSW as well.

“Her unparalleled commitment and ongoing contribution to the betterment of the community is what makes Evelyn Maitland’s Local Woman of the Year.

“She’s an inspiration for other women in the sport and across the community to realise their potential and make strides to ensure Maitland is an empowering place for women to play sport, live, work and visit.”

During the awards dinner, all 13 nominees were presented with certificates and flowers.

The Local Women of the Year Awards is part of the NSW Government’s initiative to recognise the accomplishments of women as part of NSW Women’s Week 2024, from 4 to 10 March, coinciding with International Women’s Day on 8 March.

“These women are the backbone of our community, volunteering their time and energy to make a positive difference,” Ms Aitchison said.

“I would like to acknowledge their significant efforts to supporting our local community and thank them for all the work they do.”

Ms Stonham will be acknowledged at the NSW Women of the Year Awards Ceremony at the International Convention Centre in Sydney on 7 March.

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