2023 Sports Foyer NSW Community Sports Awards & Distinguished Long Service

The Sports Foyer NSW Community Sports Awards, presented by Sport NSW, recognise outstanding achievements and contributions to community sport in NSW – largely carried out by a volunteer workforce.

PaddleNSW is delighted that Mike Mackney from Bonville Creek Kayak Club has been announces as a recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Long Service Awards for those that have given exceptional service to their sport for over 25 years.

Mike Mackney: Distinguished Long Service Award

Mike Mackney has been Club President and handicapper since 1987. In that time he has encouraged, chaperoned, ‘trained’ countless people who have passed thought the ‘membership’ of the club. He has turned up every Saturday rain, hail and storm. There have been occasions where he has turned up to be joined by only one or two other paddlers due to the atrocious weather. He has maintained records of those attending each of their Saturday events; recorded the paddling course for the day; each paddler’s time and calculated their handicap for the next week. He has been the ‘starter’ for each paddle and recorded the times at the conclusion of the event. Once he gets home from the paddle he issues an email to all members giving full details of the event conditions including the weather, tide flow and who excelled and who was not putting in a solid effort. Always this is an amusing read after the paddle. Without Mike’s enthusiasm BCKC may have folded many years ago. 36 years of continuous service is remarkable.


In addition to Mike’s Distinguished Long Service Award, PaddleNSW has two finalists in other categories. The NSW Community Sports Awards will be presented on Thursday June 29. Our best wishes to our Finalists!

Darren Forbes: Community Official of the Year

Darren regularly officiates at State level harbour racing events and marathon series events – about 15 times per year. At club level the officiating is more than double that number. rather than specialising in one task, Darren has an integral hand in everything – presenting the pre-event safety briefing to competitors; ensuring correct registration procedure with boat numbers; race marshal; event timing and results; judiciary and appeals where necessary (not often, we are a clean sport).

Additionally, proud Biripi man Darren has been PNSW’s Indigenous Advisor since 2021. He’s a member of the PNSW Diversity & Inclusion Committee, the Harbour Racing Committee and the Club Exec Working Group. Darren is developing the PNSW Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and championing the inaugural Indigenous Awareness Round of the Marathon Series including Indigenous-designed caps. Dazza’s advice and support to all around him is invaluable and always delivered with a twist of his unique sense of humour. Darren is a founding member of Newy Paddlers and the face of the club at Throsby Creek. His energy and passion means that he is well respected in the club and the local community. He’s an ideas man and always looks for improvement, innovation and inclusion – whether at a competition, charity or recreation event. As a highly-accredited coach, he does a wonderful job guiding the prospects/members and is very generous with his time mentoring others. His ability to make competitors and fellow officials feel welcome and enjoy themselves has created a sense of pride at both club and state level. His enthusiasm is infectious.

Kiaran Lomas: Volunteer Director of the Year

Kiaran’s volunteer efforts at club, state and national level are very impressive. At club level, Kiaran has taken a new club from obscurity to stability in less than a year. His contribution at State level for PaddleNSW is even more impressive. He Chairs the State Biard, he Chairs the State Stand-Up Paddling Committee, and he is also a fully-committed club and community coach. His efforts particularly in the fast-growing discipline of stand-up paddling has seen both membership and participation numbers spiral in the right direction over recent years. He travels state-wide at his own expense to promote paddling activity, both at our events and also surfing and SLS events. That commitment is seldom seen in other sports and community volunteerism.

Kiaran has been a PaddleNSW Board Director for eight years, serving many of those terms as Vice Chairperson. 2023 is the first year Kiaran has served as State Chair, and he, as we anticipated, has displayed tremendous wisdom, decorum and long-sighted vision in all his dealings with various stakeholders – including members, clubs, participants, coaches, fellow State Chairs and especially the sometimes-prickly National Body. The organisation continues to grow its membership base, with numbers rising by 6.6% during Kiaran’s 2022/23 leadership. Tasmania is the only other state enjoying growth, with national numbers declining overall by 3%. Our future is sustainable and secure, with the organisation’s total and current assets sitting comfortably in the best position of our 74-year history. Kiaran deserves significant credit for this position.

Kiaran is renowned for looking outside the traditional square, and happily takes the blinkers off. His strategies to engage with commercial operators and other SSOs is the envy of our counterparts in other states, and indeed the NSO. He is visionary, and the efforts are paying off. Under Kiaran’s leadership, our engagement with females continues to broaden. We currently have a majority female representation on our Board. We are undertaking an indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan, and will proudly host an indigenous awareness event at Woronora in July, with specially-designed indigenous caps as a feature. The future of PaddleNSW in NSW and ACT is in very safe hands thanks to the selfless, innovative and inclusive leadership of Kiaran Lomas.

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