20th May 2010
GUEST OF HONOUR 2010 - MATTHEW WEBSTER
Our links with Australia have been growing over the last few years with the numbers of highland dancers from down under increasing year on year, the attendance of Melbourne based heavy weight athlete Aaron Neighbour and with the Open 90 metres having been won in both 2007 and 2009 by Canberra based Ken Telfer. It seemed only appropriate therefore when looking to invite our Guest of Honour for 2010 that the name of an Australian came to the fore.
The Committee is delighted that the Guest of Honour for 2010 is Matthew Webster, currently a resident of Melbourne and who will be undertaking a mammoth three month super tour of the world from the end of June. He was always intending to come to Scotland this year and, when we heard that, it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up to ask him to attend in a formal capacity at Alva.
Matthew is a former sprint athlete of some repute. He had an illustrious running career spanning two decades on the professional circuit in Australia and especially in the Victorian Athletic League. He took over 20 “Gift” race titles, their principal sprint events in that state, and although he never managed the daddy of them all at the Stawell Easter Festival – the Australian Powderhall – he does have the distinction of taking the Bendigo Gift (run over the “Sheffield” distance of 120 metres) on two separate occasions, a truly inspirational feat.
Injury brought his career to a premature end but not his involvement in the world of professional and amateur athletics. He took on a number of roles in the VAL and was appointed its President in 1998, a role he performed for the next four years. He became a starter and was elevated for the 2009- 2010 season to the position of Chief Starter in VAL by another great Australian runner, Bill Sutton, who is now Chief Steward. Matthew also acts as photo finish operator and is regularly called upon to lend his expertise and opinions to athletics meetings under the amateur code, the highlight of which was undoubtedly in 2006 when called upon to officiate at the Commonwealth Games being held in that cauldron of Australian sport, the MCG.
Like our Guest of Honour last year, Matthew has just celebrated a “particular” birthday and we all wish him well for his big day with us and extend to him and to his partner, Diane, a very warm welcome to Scotland and in particular to the Johnstone Park. We hope he will take away with him a few good memories of his time with us and we know that you will all make him most welcome in our midst.