Without the Su Kings of this world, rural and remote schools such as Delegate, down south on the border with Victoria, could well become a distant memory, according to the school principal Brad Bannister.
Mr Bannister, who describes himself as the ”Proud Principal”, has been at Delegate for five years, about the same time that Ms King has been there – as president of the P&C and, according to Mr Bannister, pretty much the person who makes everything happen.
Mr Bannister nominated Ms King for the NSW Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence and was named NSW Public Education’s School Parent of the Year for always doing her best to support the small school – and its community.
“There is no other way to describe Su than incredible,” Mr Bannister said. “Her energy in providing for rural and remote schools like ours is immeasurable.
“She’s the sort of person who you’d raise an idea with, even if it is a bit fanciful, and she’ll come straight back and say, ‘How can we make this happen?'”
Mr Bannister nominated Ms King for the award and, knowing she was a humble soul, didn’t ask her whether she would like to receive it, just told her she had to, knowing her humility would probably get in the way of her accepting it.
“The first thing she said to me when she heard about it was, ‘What did you go and do that for?’,” he said.
He told her: “Because you deserved it.”
“When we posted it on Facebook, she was the first person to respond, saying it was a team effort,” he added.
Because her youngest son is moving on to high school, Ms King recently stepped down as P&C president but, being the person she is, will stay until she can help the new person transition into the voluntary post.
“What Su has given this school is true community spirit, and thanks to her, we now have it in spades. But all the work she does is mostly in the background, that’s why it’s so special that she won the NSW Government award,” Mr Bannister said.
Ms King said she was overwhelmed when she heard about the nomination. She said Mr Bannister had simply told her what he had done and said, “Sign it”.
“I didn’t have a lot of choice,” she joked.
A countrywoman born and bred, Ms King came to Delegate about 20 years ago to visit her mother and ended up staying. She met Dennis, who was to become her partner and father of her sons Hunter and Kyden, both of whom went to the Delegate school.
“Su has always been such a massive driver for our school,” Mr Bannister said. “I know when I see a pram with a new baby in it in town, I always think, ‘Great, here’s another one for the school’, but Su and Dennis have always seen the bigger picture – that if the school is thriving, so will the community.
“Like when we had the fires here. Su was there supporting her husband all the time – he worked 90 consecutive days on the firefront, doing 12-hour days, missing birthdays and that sort of thing.
“But that’s what they’re like, they always go that step forward to help when needed.
“Su always makes sure the community is well supported and thriving. I don’t know where she gets her energy.”
When she’s not running the Delegate P&C, Ms King does the local mail run, works in the town cafe and helps people with disabilities.
The Delegate school is one of the state’s most isolated, located so far down the South Coast it edges the border with Victoria. The population is about 250, with 30 at the school.
“We hover around 28 to 40 students, which is pretty stable,” Mr Bannister said.
For Ms King, the focus has been and always will be on the children and what they need. She believes that just because they’re in a rural and remote area, they should not miss out on what their city cousins have.
One of the projects she has been involved in is the Magical Mystery Tour, whereby the P&C regularly provides funds for every child, despite their circumstances, to go on a trip if they want to – and they often don’t know where they’re headed until they’re on the bus to their destination.