Couple still hooked on festival after 19 years as volunteers

VALUED VOLUNTEERS: Ned and Kris Beaumont are two of the Boyne Tannum HookUp’s longest serving volunteers.
VALUED VOLUNTEERS: Ned and Kris Beaumont are two of the Boyne Tannum HookUp’s longest serving volunteers. Luka Kauzlaric

EVERYBODY knows community events are nothing without volunteers, and the Boyne Tannum HookUp is no different.

Two of those who help make up the backbone of the fishing event are local couple Kris and Ned Beaumont, humble people who are entering their 19th year of volunteering at the HookUp.

Ned is vice-president and IT wiz, while Kris processes tickets, answers the phone and looks after the raffles.

Together with the team, they work hard each year to ensure the HookUp remains the best family fishing weekend in the country.

"It's a lot of hard work but it's great to see what we've done at the end of it. Sometimes it reduces you to tears but you look back and go 'oh my God, look what we have done for the community'," Kris said.

"I wouldn't give away the past 19 years. They (other volunteers) are pretty much my family now."

Kris and Ned's children, now 22 and 21, basically "grew up with HookUp".

"It's much easier now. The poor little things (kids) used to come home from school and at 8pm ask if there was going to be any dinner. We didn't realise what the time was. Every five minutes you can find, you smash out two hours of HookUp."

Kris has seen the event blossom rapidly over the past two decades and is proud of what it has become.

"There was only about 20 kids back in the day, now they've multiplied and multiplied. 340 people used to come in 1995. It's grown so much," Kris said.

"We've come a long way, the whole HookUp used to be on the back of a semi- trailer. We used to sleep there for four days in the rain in our sleeping bags to make sure nobody stole the computers. We have security now," she said.

But what do you really get out of spending hours on end, without pay, on a three-day competition?

It would be nice for others to see how good it is to volunteer for the community.

"I like doing it because of the sense of pride standing on the stage at the end, seeing the joy on kids' faces and knowing what you've done for the community," Kris said.

With many years of volunteering also comes many memories.

One of Kris' favourites is winning the 2007 Queensland Travel Train Tourism Award and the pram brigade.

"All the wives (volunteers) would go down with prams and my friend would look after all the babies, dress them, feed them, bath them and bring them back for the evenings. They were the best days! They were hard, though.

"But the biggest, saddest thing during the HookUp was when the pontoon was washed away in 2011. That was gut-wrenching and we put so much effort into it over four years," she said.

Volunteering is well known as the most rewarding feeling one can receive, and Kris recommends it volunteering to everybody.

"It would be nice for others to see how good it is to volunteer for the community. We are pretty short on volunteers.

"We all benefit from it in the end, you might end up a bit greyer but it's worth it. We bought the rural fire brigade a car and we've done some huge things," she said.

Do not miss The Observer's Sunday newspaper on May 4, a special souvenir edition in honour of this community event.



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