In the presence of the rest of Tim’s family, Anne Bates and Rebecca Infanti took the stage to discuss this prestigious award and make its inaugural presentation.

The award recognises the passion, ability, input, excellence and contribution of an outstanding APF member.

Tim Bates was described by many as a role model, and the award has been created to recognise these same qualities and passion he had for the sport. Nominations were drawn from members at large, and evaluated on the following basis:

– A passion for the sport, and for developing the sport
– Demonstrated ability to, at times, put the sport before individual ambition
– Willingness to help and nurture others in the sport, and to work towards inclusiveness
– Desire and ability to excel within their chosen areas(s) of endeavour within the sport
– Ability, skill and desire to put more back into the sport

And the nominees were:

A talented skydiver who has put her professional skills to far-reaching use within our community; a long term at club, state, national and international levels – Shirley Cowcher

A gentle giant who accumulates jumps without fuss or expectation; he has an eye for detail, and is spotted not just at the dropzone, but online and around the bar. A record holder, organiser of training camps and a confirmed team player – Mitch McMartin

With legendary passion for his work, a keen sense of humour, you wouldn’t know he’s an Instructor A and Australian representative until someone else told you. His work is seen in the landings of so many people at so many dropzones every day: Robbie McMillan

A huge reputation as a competitive skydiver, now heavily involved in coaching intermediate jumpers .A driving force behind the proposed changes to the Intermediate Formation Skydiving dive pool and qualification requirements this year. A familiar face at Picton – Darren Pearson

Described as a “manic force” by his social club, this candidate achieved his “E” license in his first year. Now working full time in the sport, with a huge reputation for converting his tandem students into solo students, a rigger in training – Koppel Solomon

With energy and enthusiasm and a new Instructor rating, our last candidate took so many sickies to go skydiving his work intervened with counselling for suspected alcoholism. He has since given up work and is training for a full-time career in skydiving – Ryan Saunders

A club stalwart with a focus on helping “A” license candidates over a cup of coffee, his motto is “no one should be jumping alone unless they choose to”. Renowned for his sincerity, his calming nature, and his thirty plus years of experience, he is the President of the Victorian Parachute Council but known to newcomers in the sport as simply “John” – John Swanland

Rebuilding the sport at the grass roots by connecting people in three states; he has studied to turn his passion into a business and an opportunity in a far flung corner of the land. One of the youngest dropzone operators in the country, Richard Timperon

Passionate, hardworking and skilful, our final candidate has two current world records in addition to his array of state and national medals. His canopy piloting has made him practically a household word on European dropzones… Michael Vaughan

And the winner of this award

Michael Vaughan, of Sydney Skydivers, Picton, Australia

Competitor at every Australian Skydiving Championships since 1998. In “off” years, Michael has taken an Intermediate team to the Nationals competing in and often winning the Inter 4 Way.

Competitor at every Australian Canopy Piloting Championships since 2004

Member of the Australian Parachuting Team each year since 2004

Formation Skydiving and Canopy Piloting team member/coach and event/load organiser

Canopy Formation team member

Canopy coach for all experience levels around Australia and across the world

Formation Skydiving coach for all experience levels around Australia.

Found on the dropzone (every weekend that he’s not away competing or training) doing BRels, starcrests and generally helping any jumper who asks and lots who don’t.

International Achievements in 2007:

Participant in New England Record 36 Way Canopy Formation, USA, July 2007

1st Place, European Swoop Tour, Russia, July 2007

1st Place, Italian Swoop Tour, Italy, July 2007

1st Place, Austrian Canopy Piloting Open, Czech Republic, August 2007

8th Place (Highest placed Australian), World Cup Canopy Piloting, Australia, November 2007

Participant in World Record 100 Way Canopy Formation, USA, November 2007

National Achievements in 2007:

5th Place Overall, Australian Canopy Piloting Championships, February 2007

Participant in Australian Record 25 Way Canopy Formation, March, 2007

Gold Medal, Australian 2 Way Canopy Formation Championships, April 2007

Silver Medal, Australian 4 Way Open Formation Skydiving Championships, April, 2007

Gold Medal, Speed Event, NSW Canopy Piloting Championships, September 2007

Gold Medal, 2 Way Formation Skydiving, NSW State Championships, October 2007

2007 Australian Parachute Federation Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding personal achievement in Sport Parachuting

An emotional moment for Tim’s family, and all present. Those who know Michael will compare him against the criteria, and know that his selection as the winner is no accident. Those who do not know Michael will surely meet him soon; he travels widely, spreading his passion and lore in an unassuming fashion. An impromptu yet impassioned speech from Michael demonstrated, once again, that he is a worthy inaugural recipient of the Tim Bates award.

By Luke Oliver

I'm having an interesting life.You can contact me on 0429 020865.

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