Two kind-hearted local women have been named Hidden Treasures by the NSW Rural Women’s Network.

Hidden Treasures acknowledges the important volunteer roles women play within NSW rural communities and that is how Christine Pullman and Kaitlyn Faulkner were chosen for the honour.

Chris Pullman grew up in Gunnedah and will always be a country girl at heart.  As the client liaison officer of Gunnedah Branch of Can Assist, Chris is one of a small group of passionate volunteers who tirelessly fundraise to allow the branch to financially assist local community members affected by cancer and undergoing treatment. 

Chris joined the Cancer Support committee when her father Dick Smith was battling cancer. The support group merged with Can Assist in 2010 and Chris has been in her current role since 2015.

Fellow committee member Linda Lee said the group is truly blessed to have someone as dedicated to her role as Chris. 

“We understand that families struggle to cope with reduced income because of a cancer diagnosis and that they face increased expenses from travel, accommodation, and medical costs,” Linda said.

“This is where Chris steps in – once she is contacted by someone needing strict confidential financial assistance she goes above and beyond to help them out. 

“It can be a long process, especially if Chris feels the need to offer extended comfort to these people too. 

“Chris has a ‘heart of gold’ and is very compassionate, often spending many hours in the week dedicating time to these clients. Chris also still works, so giving freely of her time to our group is a bonus for Gunnedah Can Assist.”

When Chris received news of the honour she felt “very humbled” but believes the work of Can Assist is so important that this award will shine a light on the help that is available to those receiving treatment for cancer.

Chris began volunteering on committees at the age of 18 when she joined the Gunnedah Basketball Association and was a founding member of miniball in Gunnedah. She also volunteered as a helper when her children started school and has been a volunteer selling badges for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day for years.

The Cancer Council Relay for Life was also a passion for Chris and she served on the committee three times.

The total expenditure for Can Assist in 2021/22 was $20,195, rising to $21,981 so far, this financial year – and the fund-raising continues to help people with the expense of cancer treatment.

Kaitlyn Faulkner grew up in Forbes and moved to Sydney to study physiotherapy. Now living in Gunnedah, she went on to practise as a physiotherapist and have three children. 

Kaitlyn is a passionate advocate for women’s health and mental health, volunteers for and is a director on the board of directors for ‘The Nurtured Village’. 

Despite her own personal challenges, mental health, financial strain, hyperemesis pregnancies, raising three babies without her own ‘village’, Kaitlyn advocates tirelessly for women and their mental health through her social media, via the charity and in her community and on The Nurtured Village Podcast. 

Kaitlyn dedicates up to five hours every week creating content and engaging with the community in Gunnedah and Coonabarabran to facilitate hampers, which she delivers to a mum in the region every month. Kaitlyn collects donations from businesses and individuals to gift to a mum navigating hardship. She recently engaged with the CWA in Gunnedah to strengthen awareness and ties. 

Kaitlin’s vulnerability, her tenacity and her tireless work is creating genuine change for women in the Gunnedah shire. 

Having suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (most severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy) Kaitlyn also volunteers for hyperemesis gravidarum Australia (HA) including completing a triathlon to raise funds for the charity.

Hidden Treasures is not an award program but a public tribute to the vast number of women who give their time and energy to help others.

From meeting at the crossroads with drought-stricken women in 1992, the NSW Rural Women’s Network continues to reflect and improve how society listens to rural women, links them to information and services and creates opportunities that build personal and business resilience and strengthens rural communities.

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