A boxing enthusiast who has devoted much of his life to building and running the Kingaroy Sporting Club has won the South Burnett’s Sports Coach, Official or Administrator Award.
Len Hams has been devoted to boxing since the 1960s, and after raising funds to found the Kingaroy Sporting Club, participated in it himself as a competitor, trainer, judge and referee.
In 1978, Len began training many fighters and travelling with them to tournaments, often paying for fuel out of his own pocket.
His commitment produced many competitors who fought in State and Australian titles, including one fighter who competed at the SGIO mini games, just before the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
He has had a hand in the gloves of local boxers such as Marcus Tones, Scott Henry, Dion McGrady and Joe Wairau, who now assists him with coaching.
And Len’s heart is so dedicated to the success of indigenous boxers that he opened his home to them to ensure they were able to achieve their dreams. Charlie Fewquandie, Scott, Grant and Danny Henry were young men he treated as members of his family for months on end as he helped them grow into a brighter future.
Len’s heart and soul is invested in boxing and he has held roles as coach, referee and judge at a national level, which has made him a well-known and highly respected figure in boxing circles nation-wide.
Len has invested more than 50 years in the Kingaroy Sporting Club and has won wide respect for his work, as well as the support of his family, club members and the local community.
Other nominees this year were:
- Debbie Ovens (Kingaroy) – Debbie Ovens is a quite achiever who has made a big contribution to junior and senior football and futsal players and clubs across the South Burnett. Her face is synonymous with senior soccer at the Kingaroy Senior Soccer Club, where she has coached both the Division 1 and Division 2 Gunners teams for the past 12 years. Debbie’s futsal coaching of representative teams for the past 14 years have enabled her to participate in tours for the Australian Futsal Association teams to New Zealand and she has made a significant volunteer contribution to both sports.
- Corby Cunnington (Nanango) – For the past 20 years Corby Cunnington has transformed scared South Burnett equestrian riders and carriage drivers into award winning, confident, fit and healthy individuals. She shares her time between the South Burnett Equestrian Group and her own private coaching business, and has trained dozens of horse and riders to international level in dressage, jumping, showing, endurance and carriage driving. Her students showcase our region’s talents in high profile, prestigious events like the Brisbane CDO, the only international dressage competition in Queensland; the Australia Amateur Owner National Championships; the Queensland Dressage Championships; and the Tamworth International Combined Driving event. Her passion for all people, including those with a disability, to experience the physical and social benefits of riding endears her to many. Corby’s grant writing skills have helped draw international expertise to the South Burnett, and international instructors often comment on the high level of the riding skills, thanks to Corby’s teaching style. Corby is also planning an exciting event for the South Burnett in 2018 – a two star Combined Carriage competition that will draw participants to the South Burnett instead of having locals have to leave the state for experience and competition.
- Janelle Smith (Murgon) – Janelle has given 35 years of service to the Murgon Golf Club, and has served in various leadership roles since 2006 including Ladies President, Secretary and Vice President. She involves herself in nurturing junior and new lady golfers in the club, using her own achievements and experiences for the benefit of others. Her energy and passion was the driving force in planning of the Ladies Life Membership Pink Day in 2016 and 2017 with all funds raised going to Breast Cancer Research. This event has raised over $2000 in the past two years. Janelle still holds one special achievement to this day – shooting the course record at the Kilkivan Golf Club, a record she set on July 12, 1969.
- Krysty Connolly (Kingaroy) – Krysty Connelly’s day job as sports coordinator for Kingaroy High School doesn’t leave a lot of spare time once she has finished organising swimming and athletics carnivals for her school and region. She is recognised as an invaluable member of both her school and wider community for her dedication and commitment to students and young people participating in sport, not just on elite competitions. She has also served as President of the Kingaroy Swimming Club for the past four years, her excellent coordination skills ensure both the success of her local club as well as creating carnivals for all South Burnett swimming clubs to participate in. Her leadership and coordination skills also have her involved in the Wide Bay Swimming Committee to ensure the South Burnett has a seat at the decision making tables. This commitment involves travelling at her own cost to meetings and attending development camps. She was rewarded for her dedication by being appointed as Manager of the Wide Bay 13-19 swimming team that attended the Qld School Swimming Championships. Her leadership skills have also seen the Kingaroy Swimming Club access fundraising opportunities through supporting the Kingaroy Blue Light, Speedway and at the Kingaroy RSL.
- Geoff French (Nanango) – Geoff kicked off Karate4Kids in Nanango in 2007 and in addition to running his private centres in Nanango, Kingaroy, and Blackbutt along with a gym and health centre, Geoff’s volunteer contribution to coaching and travelling with competitors competing in the South East Queensland Chapters of the International Sports Karate Association and the World Association of Kickboxing is widely recognised and highly valued. Geoff contributes his talents to students in many different ways such as officiating, coaching, refereeing, and linking them up with online courses for their ongoing development. Geoff has seen some of his students participate internationally in competitions in Spain and Italy. He has trained 10 world champions – two in 2014 and eight last year. Geoff also created the South Burnett Karate Association as a not for profit organisation aimed at acquiring grants and sponsorships to support members who wish to train and compete in local circuits. Geoff is also an active community supporter and the club and its members often demonstrate their skills at concerts, fetes and regional events such as Nanango Mardi Gras and Blackbutt Avocado Festival.
- Julie Watt (Nanango) – Julie is a highly regarded among her peers, going above and beyond in her commitments and duty at the Nanango and District Netball Club. With over 10 years volunteering in different capacities, including after her own child finished playing, she has served as Vice-President, Umpiring Convenor, Carnival Organiser and Game Controller. During 2017, Julie lead the Kingaroy TAFE South West Umpire Development Program; attended a Netball Queensland Leadership conference; and controlled the club’s membership of 120 on court each week. She also organised umpiring rosters each week and has been the Responsible Association adult at six weekend carnivals. In what little spare time she has left, she also attends and runs the canteen at all the club’s fundraising events to raise funds for the new courts; attends meetings; cleans the clubhouse, kitchen and carries out many other menial tasks to ensure players enjoy the very best netball. Last year Julie was voted the Nanango Netball Club Person of the Year.