Published on 27 September 2012
27 September 2012
Australia’s first ironman champion, Hayden Kenny OAM, will soon add another title to his impressive list of achievements when he becomes an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Kenny, 76, of Alexandra Headland will be recognised at USC’s Graduation ceremony on Friday 5 October for his tireless dedication to surf lifesaving and emergency rescue work.
The lifesaving legend helped launch Sunshine Coast Helicopter Service Ltd with Roy Thompson and Des Scanlan in 1979. It was the first community-based helicopter rescue service of its kind in South-East Queensland and today operates as the AGL Action Rescue Helicopter.
Mr Kenny was a helicopter crew member for 25 years until his retirement nine years ago, but he is still actively involved in the company. His services were rewarded with a Centenary Medal from the Queen in 2001.
He said the helicopter rescue service had conducted more than 15,000 missions since 1979, bringing hope to people in often heart-breaking circumstances.
“While it is difficult seeing people in these tragic situations, the relief the service brings to patients and their families at a very critical time is very rewarding,” he said.
“I still receive letters from survivors today – 30 years later – that are very personal to me. That’s when you feel unbelievable gratification and know that what you are doing does make a difference.”
Mr Kenny had a long and decorated career as a lifesaving competitor, which included winning the first Australian ironman championship at Coolangatta in 1966.
He also founded a successful Sunshine Coast business, Hayden Surfcraft, which is internationally recognised for its quality skis, rescue boards and surfboards.
Mr Kenny said he felt honoured to receive recognition from USC for his rescue work.
“I always envisaged these awards are for other people,” he said. “I have never considered that I’d be in that category and I am very humbled by it.”
USC’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said Mr Kenny was a passionate ambassador for the Sunshine Coast and a deserving recipient of the honorary award.
— Michelle Widdicombe