Francis leaves sports trust after 10 years

By Gary Caffell

Bob Francis has stood down as chairman of the Wairarapa Sports Education Trust, a position he has held since the trust was established 10 years ago.

Managed by a group of volunteers with the aim of raising funds for coaches and athletes to further their sporting excellence, WSET has made a huge impact with Francis at the helm.

Activities have included:

Helping establish the High Performance Cricket Centre at Rathkeale College where the Bracewell Cricket Academy provided opportunities for overseas cricketers to come to New Zealand for expert tuition. Cricket festivals were held during the holiday periods and among the sport's "greats" providing coaching were Australians Ashley Mallett, Doug Walters and Peter Philpott.

Book launches in partnership with Hedley's Bookshop have involved high profile sporting personalities such as Sir John Kirwan, Sean Fitzpatrick and Buck Shelford.

Three successful fundraising dinners have been held with a range of notable guest speakers including Sir Graham Henry, John Bracewell, Yvonne Willering, Ric Charlesworth, Robyn Wong, Eric Rush and Peter Fitsimmons.

Home-grown national cricket reps Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder have been honoured at special functions and gun middle distance runner Nick Willis came to Wairarapa to address a group of young athletes.

Special fundraisers have been held for Davis Cup tennis player Marcus Daniell and champion golfer Ben Campbell to help launch their careers on the international stage.

Two successful golf tournament fundraisers have been held.

The WSET has raised over $140,000 for athletes and coaches in 19 different sporting codes while Bob Francis has been in charge and they have also benefited from his friendship with two of the country's top broadcasters, Keith Quinn and John McBeth, who have given their support to many of the ventures undertaken during his tenure.

Another grand servant of WSET, Margie Holmes, is also retiring from the position of secretary-treasurer.

The combined skills of her and Francis will be sorely missed, not only by the trust but by the wider sporting community which has benefited greatly from the many initiatives promoted under their leadership.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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