November 27, 2020

Oliver Gardiner

He is the volunteer everyone loves to call on – whether at local sporting clubs, schools or church, Oliver Gardiner is always willing to help out.

This dedication and enthusiasm in helping others has earned him status as a young Hunters Hill Hero.

At the age of 15, Oliver (Olly) already has several years of volunteering to his credit.

He does a lot of work with Hunters Hill Junior Rugby Union Football Club, having started at age 12, a year before he was able to become a referee at age 13.

“Olly started at the club just basically offering to volunteer to do anything,” Referee Liaison Officer Ben Gregory said.

“He was setting fields up, he was helping in the canteen.

“This was before he was actually old enough to become a referee.

“He’s just a wonderful kid who’s always willing to help out whenever he can.”

Ben, who has been running referee training for the best part of a decade, said Olly was a great young referee with huge potential.

“Olly’s the keenest bloke that’s ever come through,” Ben said.

“You can’t stop him.

“He just wants to be there, wants to help, wants to get involved.”

Olly does both paid and volunteer rugby refereeing duties.

He also lends his skills to sports matches at his school, St Joseph’s College.

As well as refereeing, running the line, setting up and packing away fields and helping out in the canteen, Olly also takes photos for the rugby club.

His younger brother plays cricket and Olly goes along and takes photos, or steps in as umpire when needed.

He plays drums and has also been a singer at Holy Name of Mary Parish.

In addition to the photography and filming of sports matches, assemblies and drama performances (including Year 12 drama works had to be filmed in 2020 due to COVID) at Joeys, Olly helps out at Villa Maria primary school.

“We’ve got kids at Villa. He’ll often go and help set up for events there,” his mum Kate Gardiner said.

Olly has also taken photos for Year 6 graduations.

“He just loves getting involved,” Kate said.

“Wherever they need a man, they call him.”

Olly’s parents – mum Kate and dad Stephen – are incredibly proud of him.

“He just gives so much time to people,” Kate said.

“If someone asks him to help out he never says no.

“It’s just such a beautiful trait to have.”

For Olly it is about sharing his good fortune.

“I’m very lucky myself to be able to participate in these myself and to be able to give back and help other kids and parents and other organisations,” he said.

“To be able to help other kids do the same as what I’ve been able to do.”

He liked getting involved as it was also an opportunity to explore his interests.

“Drumming, when I get into a studio to practice, no one else is there, it’s just me and the sticks and I’m able to express myself,” Olly said.

“When it comes to refereeing, I’m in control.

“I’m able to control the game and help kids learn the game.

“Being able to know you’ve refereed and coached children through the game … I love it.”

Olly said it was really cool to see how younger kids had grown as players over the course of a few years.

Asked how he felt that people recognised his hard work, Olly said it made him happy.

“I’m not doing it for praise but it’s good to see that there’s so many people that I’ve been able to reach out to.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with and want to keep doing it.”

Help us to shine a light on other unsung Hunters Hill Heroes by nominating your hero today.

Please note that nominations for Hunters Hill Heroes will be considered for Citizen of the Year awards.

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Hunter’s Hill Council

22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
PO Box 21, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
Tel: (02) 9879 9400
ABN: 75 570 316 011