A passionate advocate for sport and the Bundaberg Region community, Dale Rethamel has given as generously with his time as he has his financial support.
It’s his tireless patronage of a large number of sporting and community groups, along with voluntary positions within the community, that has seen him named the Bundaberg Regional Council 2022 Australia Day Award Citizen of the Year.
But he’s more than just a sponsor. He’s an emcee, a trophy presenter, advisor or anything a club may need.
“Sometimes it's not always about writing a cheque,” Dale said.
“A club can benefit from someone's maybe experience or, you know, business knowledge or background.
“Or it might be just the fact that they might not have a person available that feels comfortable with maybe emceeing a presentation night and I'm always happy to put my hand up to do those sorts of roles.
“If it can help a club out in some way shape or form and to feel like you're a part of a club - that's the amazing feeling."
“I love feeling connected and I love feeling a part of all the sporting groups and the community groups that we’re involved in.
“It's a great feeling. I do it with pride and I do it for passion.
“And obviously I do it because Bundaberg is just such a great town and I love helping to try and contribute to keep it that way.”
Dale was born in Bundaberg and, despite a brief stint in Brisbane studying and working, it’s always been home.
Growing up in North Bundaberg “from a pretty humble beginning” the generosity ingrained within the community rubbed off on Dale and has seen him continue to give back in any way he can.
“Bundaberg is very fortunate to have such a giving community,” Dale said.
“We constantly punch above our weight as far as giving charitably, giving our time.”
Dale said he didn’t do it for recognition.
“I do it because I just love the city and I have the capacity to be able to do it and it's something that I enjoy doing.
“No one, I believe, would ever do something like this for the reward of being recognised.”
Despite his busy schedule as a successful local businessman, Dale has also found the time to hold voluntary positions within the community.
It was his passion for all sporting codes which saw Dale rarely miss a meet at the local race track and which spurred committee members to encourage him to join in 2017.
Before long Dale was president of the Bundaberg Race Club and helping to continue its positive growth.
“We've been very fortunate since 2018 to take advantage of quite some many grants with quite a lot of background work gone behind them.
“We've been able to upgrade the machinery as far as new tractors, new barriers, machinery sheds, track upgrade, air conditioning in the clubhouse.
“It's been quite an active few years.”
Unfortunately the outbreak of Covid had the potential to bring track activity to a standstill, but thanks to Dale’s drive and determination the Bundaberg Race Club nominated to hold six TAB meetings livestreamed worldwide.
“We had to do that on very, very short notice.
“We hadn't done Sky televised racing before.
“I had a lady in the office and myself and obviously the barrier staff.
“We did that and we pulled that off very successfully and we did that because obviously we had the ability to be able to continue racing in our area for the livelihoods of the trainers, the jockeys and all the race participants.
“But we did that also so that we could highlight the Bundaberg Race Club isn't just a non-TAB club that races on the sand seven times a year, that we do have the capacity to be televised all around the world.”
After helping with the initial task to fundraise $3 million for the new aeromedical facility at the Bundaberg Airport, Dale is now Deputy Chair of the LifeFlight Regional Advisory Committee.
“It is just an amazing organisation.
“I love going out to the base. I love showing people the base.
“I’m incredibly passionate about the lifesaving work that they do and the amount of fundraising that's involved to keep the service in the area is also an enormous figure, but you just don't think about that.
“You push ahead.
“We've got a great community behind us in Bundaberg that continues to support the service.”
Dale said it was a great honour to be named Citizen of the Year and, now that he had been recognised, he was looking forward to being in a position to recognise the countless other volunteers throughout the region.