REVEALED: #24-19 of Gympie’s most influential of 2020
#24 KATHY LITTLE WALKER
KNOWN for her determination to dig out the truth of Gympie council matters, Kathy Little Walker’s presence in the local government landscape shows no signs of slowing, and she comes in at #24 of the people of influence in this region in 2020.
As creator and chief moderator of the Gympie Regional Forum Positively Factual Facebook page, which has more than 3400 followers, the Gympie-born Mrs Walker was and continues to be an avid and vocal scrutineer of Gympie’s previous council.
SNEAK PEEK: #40 on Gympie’s most influential list of 2020
Mrs Walker spent four years fighting for change at the local government level following the sacking of GRC planning officer Jill Promnitz and the clearing of GRC head of planning Mike Hartley who was accused of criminal fraud charges in 2014.
With the Forum following still growing, Mrs Walker undoubtedly has had an impact on council coverage and some may argue on the outcome of the local government election when five councillors (including mayor Mick Curran) were not returned.
Through the Forum page, Mrs Walker has forged links with the Queensland Local Government Reform Alliance (which held its AGM in Gympie in 2017) and council candidates for other regions, including Jannean Dean and Gary Duffy.
#23 JUSTIN LIPPIATT
COMING in at #23 of Gympie’s 40 most powerful and influential people of 2020 is businessman, father and husband Justin Lippiatt.
Mr Lippiatt has 25 years’ experience in retail, financial, NFP, education and more recently the manufacturing and transport sectors.
He is an active church goer and board member of the Gympie Chamber of Commerce, and CEO of Polleys Buses and Pinetech Manufacturing Pty Ltd, where he has created an empowered team culture resulting in a business turnaround including the COVID-19 period.
Passionate about business and the prospects for regional youth, he is the driving force behind the fledgling Grow Unlimited Strategy, Gympie Angels Investment Group and a Chamber of Commerce initiative to nurture and mentor local youth through a Young Tycoons program.
Mr Lippiatt recently completed his Master of International Business to add to his Master of Business Administration and Graduate Diploma in Management.
#22 TOM & LYN GRADY
THIS humble couple would be the last people giddied by being on a list of Gympie’s most influential – but their passion for their community and keen business sense means their presence and influence in the Gympie region gets things done, which is why they have come in at #22 of this year’s list.
Tom and Lyn Grady both hail from the Gympie region and have been growing their name and brand for 40 years, since they opened Tom Grady Real Estate in Monkland St in 1980, where they sold houses, farms and ran machinery auctions.
Six years later, the Gradys added to their success when they bought Gene Barker Livestock – selling up to 40,000 head of livestock per year for many years alongside their real estate business.
Later, they included rural merchandise in their expanding business in a store in Mary St.
They now operate two top Combined Rural Traders stores on Tozer and Nash Sts, with 15 employees.
One of their passions – the Gympie District Show (which could not go ahead this year because of COVID restrictions) would not be as big or bright or may not even have a future if it wasn’t for the Gradys generous sponsorship.
It’s an event that draws up to 40,000 visitors each year.
The Gradys sponsor the spectacular fireworks shows that run each night and the competitions that go with them, as well as sponsoring every section, and feeding visiting farmers each morning.
They also sponsor the Kilkivan Great Horse Ride.
SNEAK PEEK: #38 on Gympie’s most influential list of 2020
#21 TONY STEWART
RAINBOW Beach businessman, fisherman, drought runner and community stalwart Tony Stewart has come in at #21 in the Gympie region’s 40 Most Influential People of 2020.
The 73-year-old and Rainbow Beach resident, who worked in the fishing industry for more than 20 years, was named Gympie Citizen of the Year in 2018 and is still an active board member of the Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association, whose membership exceeds 50 businesses and accounts for almost every business in Rainbow Beach.
He was nominated in 2018 for a News Corp Pride of Australia Award for his tireless work helping the farming families of western Queensland and northern New South Wales hit hard by drought.
His efforts in promoting, co-ordinating and shipping truckloads of support through the Rainbow Beach Droughtrunners have been incredible and had a powerful effect not just on drought affected families for the past five years, but Rainbow Beach itself, and the broader Gympie region. These continue today.
The Droughtrunners have also run huge fundraising events such as balls, and hosted children from drought affected communities for holidays on the Cooloola Coast, involving multiple stakeholders, through the Bush to Beach project.
Mr Stewart’s efforts through the Commerce and Tourism Association - which has helped the Rainbow Beach business community not only ride out the COVID-19 storm but brought in thousands of visitors and a tourism boom - and the Droughtrunners, earns him his spot on the 2020 list of the most influential.
#20 RENITA HENRY-MAY
GYMPIE blogger, teacher and mother-of-two Renita Henry-May has made her debut on Gympie’s Power 40 list this year at Number 20.
The creative and passionate businesswoman is the brains behind Foodie Mumma Ren –
a blogging brand based on recipes and a love of food with an associated website and strong Facebook following of 15,000 people from all over the world.
Foodie Mumma Ren was a finalist for the national 2020 AusMumpreneur Awards in the Author and People’s Choice Leadership categories.
The awards, presented by The Women’s Business School, recognise outstanding women who successfully balance motherhood and business in a way that suits their life and family.
As a mother of two, a wife of a FIFO electrician and a Japanese and food technology teacher by day, Renita created Foodie Mumma Ren as a way to share her love and passion for all things food.
Connecting with her fans allows Renita to connect with people from all over the world who share her passion, she said.
She takes the life-is-too-short approach to things and encourages others to the same.
“It can be challenging to be a successful business woman while raising a family and Renita gives this advice for others thinking about starting their own enterprise.
“Follow your dreams and your passion.”
#19 KIM BOYTER
IN THE words of Gympie Regional Mayor Glen Hartwig, you wouldn’t find a more passionate person than Kim Boyter in the Goomeri community.
A deserving new arrival among this year’s rankings of the region’s most influential people, the tireless volunteer and vocal community advocate is the driving force behind the iconic Goomeri Pumpkin Festival.
While the festival was among an endless list of big-ticket events cancelled by COVID-19 this year, Kim was instrumental in drawing a record crowd of about 18,000 people to the town in 2019.
And that impressive feat was on the back of the festival being awarded Gympie Regional Council’s Community Event of the Year on Australia Day last year, and the Gympie Chamber of Commerce Tourism Award at the Gympie Business Awards.
As co-ordinator Kim has her sights set on a bigger and better festival in 2021, with the countdown to May 31 well and truly underway.
“I pretty much devote my life to it, I probably give it 20 hours a week voluntarily to maintaining our annual events calendar, it’s not just the once a year festival,” Kim said.
“It’s all about community building, resilience and building harmony to get that volunteer base up that we need. If we don’t have volunteers we have no festival.”
Through her work with the festival Kim also has a lot to do with other not-for-profit organisations like the local SES, Goomeri Lions and the Goomeri Project, where “they always have something on the go”.
Perhaps her crowning achievement this year was earning one of two Gympie Senior Citizen of the Year awards in August, recognising her outstanding dedication towards progress for Goomeri fuelled by a love of its “wide open spaces” and “family-based values”.
“I’m still trying to work out how that happened, but I’ll take that accolade,” she said.
“It’s nice to know people in the community recognise the work I do and value it, so I’m really appreciative of that support and without it I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.”
This list is a subjective talking point, not a scientific guide. We welcome feedback from the public. It is about the 40 most powerful and/or influential people in the Gympie region. How strong and broad is their influence? A special committee of community leaders from various walks of life have voted on who should be on this list and in what order.
Is there someone you think should be on the list? Email your contenders to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below and tell us why.