Queen’s Birthday OAM for Bruce after 51 years in Gladstone
WHEN Bruce Hunt moved to Gladstone from Brisbane in 1969, he became involved in the community almost immediately, but never dreamt it would see him being awarded an Order of Australia Medal.
“It still seems like yesterday when we got here,” he said.
Born and schooled in Fiji, Mr Hunt did an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner with CSR in sugar mills, before studying mechanical engineering via correspondence in Brisbane, until he moved to Australia to complete his studies.
In December 1969, with wife Robin and four children, Doug, Don, Libby and Jacqui, Mr Hunt quickly became involved with South Gladstone State School as P&C president and the Yaralla Scout Association president.
“My involvement in the Gladstone community began through my kids,” he said.
“I was president of South Gladstone P&C for 14 years, when the school was huge and had a peak enrolment of 1080 students.
“When we came to Gladstone the population was just 16,000 and the only access through town to West Gladstone was through Tank St, there were no circulating roads at all.”
At that time, a lot of students were in demountables, which motivated Mr Hunt to get something done.
“I orchestrated a meeting of the combined P&C presidents to take on Claude Wharton, Minister of Works, to get a program of upgrading of all the Gladstone schools,” he said.
“We got $37 million ... we got preschools, Kin Kora State School, Toolooa High School – all of those resulted from that in the early 1970s.”
Working as a maintenance engineer at QAL after graduating with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering with second-class honours, Mr Hunt quickly became well known around the city.
“I worked in maintenance, operations, utilities and administration roles, until I became works manager and head of operations from 1990 to 1995,” he said.
In 1980, Mr Hunt joined South Gladstone Rotary, where he has been president, treasurer and director over the years, while also working as youth director of the Interact Club with Toolooa State High School.
“For 17 years we supported the Gladstone Literacy Centre, financially supporting literacy programs for students a couple of years below their peer level, which has since been absorbed into the school’s own program,” he said.
Mr Hunt joined the formative committee of the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum Society and has been president since 1993, a role he remains in today.
“We support the gallery director and their activities, and we have had the Golding bursary for the past 17-years, which is worth $2000 to help a Gladstone student study fine arts,” he said.
Through his community involvement, Mr Hunt has made lifelong friends.
“Where I see people who have got an idea, or are struggling to do something, I like to help them to be able to bring it to fruition,” he said.
“Helping people to develop and deliver their ideas is very meaningful to me.
“I have made lots of great contacts and friends through my work in the community in various roles.”
Gladstone has developed massively in his years here.
“It has hugely changed – it was a very busy, overstretched community that was developing very quickly,” he said.
“QAL was built, the rail was built, the power station was built, the port was developing, so it’s been in a continuous growth phase.
“With QAL I was involved in the development of a green belt where in the 1970s it was developed from where the PCYC is now, through to the Duck Ponds along Glenlyon Rd.
“The swimming pool, the tennis courts, the hockey fields were all built, and Memorial Park where all the netball is now was a swamp, so a massive amount of work went in providing drainage and raising the whole area.”
In 2015, he was awarded Citizen of the Year by Gladstone Regional Council.
Despite enjoying retirement, that hasn’t stopped Mr Hunt, who is compiling a 250-page book on the 50-year history of South Gladstone Rotary Club for its anniversary in September.
“I get a great feeling of achievement in seeing things come to fruition,” he said.