23 May 2024

Shellharbour Council calls for new outstanding citizens to add to city's Hall of Fame

| Jen White
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Shellharbour City's Hall of Fame.

Nominations are open for new additions to the Shellharbour Hall of Fame, located in the Civic Centre. Photo: Shellharbour City Council.

On the surface, Vernon James, Dianne Gorman, Andrew McGill, Karen Lord and Brett Stibners appear to have little in common.

However, they are five of Shellharbour’s outstanding citizens who are featured in the city’s Hall of Fame, which was established in 1988 to create a source of civic pride.

The 35 names on the current list come from five categories – arts, sport and recreation, science and innovation, education and research, and business and public service.

Every four years the council calls for nominations for inclusion on the Hall of Fame from those who have “achieved significantly and who have made great contributions in their field of endeavour”.

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Council is now calling for nominations from the community for the next names to be added to the honour roll. Nominees must have been a resident, or a business, in the Shellharbour City Local Government Area for at least 10 years.

Nominations close on 14 June, and can be submitted through the Hall of Fame site.

The Hall of Fame features residents both new and old to the city, including cricketing brothers Brett and Shane Lee, Shellharbour Council stalwarts Bob and Ann Harrison, world champion lawn bowler Brett Duprez and one of the city’s founding fathers, Sir George Fuller. Here are the entries for Vernon James, Dianne Gorman, Andrew McGill, Karen Lord and Brett Stibners.

Dr Vernon James.

Shellharbour’s hardworking Dr Vernon James. Photo: Discover Shellharbour.

Dr Vernon Allen James, Shellharbour

Dr James introduced specialist vascular and microsurgery techniques to Australia, as well as the first intensive care unit and ambulance paramedic service to the Illawarra.

In 1985, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to medicine, particularly in the field of vascular surgery.

In a tribute to Dr James in the NSW Parliament in 2004, his colleague Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans said: “He was well known for starting work at 6:30 am and not finishing until 8 pm or 9 pm.

He could do nearly as much work in a day as some surgeons did in a week … He was a very fast and impressive technical surgeon … But his greatest achievement was, when he returned to Wollongong weak with leukaemia, having the hospital operating theatres at Shellharbour named after him. He regarded that as his greatest triumph.”

Dianne Gorman holding a trophy.

Former Albion Park Women’s Hockey Club star Dianne Gorman. Photo: Discover Shellharbour.

Dianne Gorman, Albion Park

Hockey champion Di Gorman represented Australia 72 times between 1972 and 1981 and was a member of every NSW and national team during that time.

She was chosen as captain of the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations world team after the 1979 world titles. The world team competed at a golden jubilee tournament in Scotland in 1980, commemorating 100 years of hockey in the United Kingdom.

In 1980, she captained the Australia team that toured the United States undefeated and was selected as captain of the Australian team for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The Olympic team did not compete due to the political boycott of the games.

In 1981 Gorman captained the Australian team to the World Cup in Argentina.

Dianne was a state coach and selector, and national captain and selector, and her achievements and contributions to hockey were recognised when she received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1986.

Albion Park pioneer Andrew McGill.

Albion Park pioneer Andrew McGill. Photo: Discover Shellharbour.

Andrew McGill

Arriving in Australia from Scotland in 1838, Andrew McGill established himself as one of the most successful breeders of dairy cattle in the district.

He was appointed joint manager of the Terry’s Meadows Estate (now Albion Park) and was one of the pioneers of the renowned Australian Illawarra Shorthorn breed of cattle, which is still internationally recognised for producing large quantities of high butter fat and protein milk.

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Andrew was involved in the establishment of a national school in 1859, and a founding member of the first Shellharbour Council in 1859, serving as an alderman for four years.

He was an original member of the Albion Park Butter Factory in Calderwood Road Albion Park, the South Coast Steam Packet Co. 1860, and Shellharbour Steam Navigation Co. 1875. In 1874, the local community presented Andrew with a testimonial at the Albion Hotel for his great service to the stock owners of the district. Being unable to thank his friends in his mother tongue (Gaelic), his son read the reply on his behalf.

He died in 1876 and was the first person buried in the Albion Park Pioneer Cemetery.

Two women holding a trophy.

Olympic swimming champion Beverley Whitfield presents the 1988 Shellharbour Sports Star award to swimming champion Karen Lord. Beverley is also in the Hall of Fame. Photo: Discover Shellharbour.

Karen Lord, Shellharbour

When she was 15, Karen won the Australian Age Swimming Championships for 100m and 200m backstroke. In 1986 she competed in Canada as a member of the Young Olympian Tour team and qualified for Australian selection for the Nikon Pan Pacific Championships in 1987.

Coached by her father, Mick Lord, Karen competed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where she had to swim the 100m backstroke preliminary three times in 1 hour and 35 minutes, as the competitors dead heated.

Karen and her brother Gary were selected to represent Australia at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, where she received a bronze medal for the 200m backstroke.

Roller Hawks captain Brett Stibners.

Former Paralympic basketballer Brett Stibners. Photo: Wollongong Roller Hawks.

Brett Stibners, Oak Flats

An Australian wheelchair basketball champion, Brett has represented Australia multiple times at the Paralympic Games, winning gold with the Rollers at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012.

He won a gold and two bronze medals at the Gold Cup World Championships between 2006 and 2018, plus three National Wheelchair Basketball League Championships with the Wollongong Roller Hawks in 2003, 2011 and 2012.

In 2009 Brett received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to sport.

Following the conclusion of the Tokyo Games Brett called time on his international career to focus on his family. He continues to play with the successful local Roller Hawks.

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