Pat Crawshaw has become the first volunteer to be named Vice President of the Rugby Football League.
The Wakefield resident, who has lived in the city for the last 43 years, has been at the heart of the community game since 1980.
She first became secretary of Walnut Warriors ARLFC, based at the Walnut Tree pub on Barnsley Road, Sandal, a position she held for 15 years.
Pat initially attended the club’s matches as a spectator, to watch her brother-in-law play.
In 2014 she was one of the first recipients of the RFL Order of Merit, which recognises long-term voluntary service in the community game.
The retired assistant headteacher was given her chain of office for the Vice President role at the RFL annual genereal meeting on July 25.
Along with her new position at the RFL, she is also the chair of the Women and Girls Advisory Group, chair of the Yorkshire Men’s League Disciplinary Panel, a member of the RFL Community Board and the chair of the Student Rugby League Board.
A stalwart of the Wakefield and District ARL Management team, Pat was also President for 15 years and made a Life Member in 2014.
She has also volunteered for BARLA and from 2005 was on the Board of Management as well as being the vice-chair of the Youth and Junior Council.
“It is a hobby that is almost like a job now,” said Pat when asked where she finds the time to fulfil her various roles.
“It is quite an honour to be named Vice President,” said Pat.
“On Saturday, I presented, with Ray French, the Women’s Challenge Cup.
“That was good, I have been around the women’s game for quite some time.
“But to have a chain of office around my neck and to be presenting with Ray French was quite an honour.
“There will be other engagements and I will be at Wembley in an official capacity.
“I am not quite sure what I will have to do but I will get to be at the Challenge Cup final.”
Having been involved with women’s rugby league for a number of years, Pat admits she has been amazed by how quickly the female side of the game has progressed.
She continued: “It is absolutely amazing.
“I have been going on, at quite a lot of levels and for various years, that women and girls want to play rugby.
“But it is only been in the last few years that people have really taken it on board.
“The RFL are totally committed to going forward with the women’s game and the Super League clubs are as well.
“The Super League club foundations have really bought into women’s rugby.
“It is only four or five years ago that we started having proper leagues for 12, 14 and 16-year-olds in the girls’ game so it has come on in leaps and bounds.”
The RFL Vice President wants to use her new role to continue to champion the community game.
As, according to Pat, without the amateur clubs nuturing young talent, Super League won’t have the players for the professional side of the sport.
“Although it is a personal honour, I am accepting this on behalf of the community game,” she said.
Pat continued: “It is the first time that anyone from the community game has been recognised in this way.
“So really it is for all the volunteers out there because there are a lot of volunteers working really hard, in the girls game especially.
“The community game is key, because without the work that the volunteers do within the community clubs, we wouldn’t have the players.
“That is where they all start, they start in the community game, they come through and without those volunteers putting all their time and effort into the game we wouldn’t have the players in Super League.”
Pat has taken over the role from London Skolars director Mark Croston.
And she also received the praise of newly-appointed RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer.
He said: “She is the first representative of the community game to become Vice-President; she is a stalwart of the community game, and a passionate promoter of girls’, women’s and student rugby league.”