Distinguished Past Students' Awards Dinner

The Distinguished Past Students’ Awards Dinner is an annual event that recognises the actions and achievements of past students who have gone above and beyond, and in doing so, encourage aspirations and ideals of the highest community standards and values. It is the School community’s pre-eminent means of recognising outstanding achievement and contribution by Past Students. 

The Rockhampton Grammar School Distinguished Past Students’ Awards offer a variety of award categories to celebrate the diverse achievements of the School’s past students. Award categories are:

  • Distinguished Past Student Award
  • Past Students’ Association Outstanding Achiever Award
  • Central Queensland Community Contribution Award
  • Past Staff Life Memberships of the Past Students’ Association.
How to Nominate

Any one is welcome to nominate an RGS past student for the awards listed above. We invite you to download the Awards Criteria and Nomination Form and submit it via email.

2021 Distinguished Past Students' Awards Dinner

The 2021 Distinguished Past Students' Awards Dinner took place on Saturday 24 July. 

If you would like information on the 2022 Awards, please contact Rachael McDonald via email or phone (07) 4936 0776.

Past Winners

The Rockhampton Grammar School Distinguished Past Students’ Awards have recognised many successful, inspirational and honourable recipients since its inception. We invite you to peruse the 2021 Award winners below. 

2021 Distinguised Past Student Award
GARY LARSON (1984)

Gary Larson was born in Gladstone and during his boarding school days at The Rockhampton Grammar School he played in the centres for the Australian schoolboys rugby union team. With little offers from rugby union after school, Gary turned his focus to rugby league. Gary went on to play rugby league for Australia and Queensland along with club rugby league for the North Sydney Bears and Paramatta Eels in the NSWRL (NSW Rugby League) competition. Gary made his first grade debut for North Sydney in 1987 before cementing his place in the first grade forward pack in 1989. His breakout season was in 1991, when Gary was rewarded with a call up to the Queensland State of Origin team. “My attitude in every game I played in that Origin arena was that I didn’t want to let anyone down,” said Gary, who would play 24 consecutive games for Queensland. “I was representing all those people I had touched throughout my rugby league career.” Gary made his Australian debut in 1995 in a Trans-Tasman Test against New Zealand. He would play all three Tests to help the Kangaroos to a series win, a team that did not include Super League players of that year. Later that year he would also play in the Rugby League World Cup where Australia defeated England in the final, playing in front of 66,540 at Wembley Stadium in London. Gary played in nine Tests between 1995 and 1997. Gary also played a lead role in the North Sydney Bears resurgence. In 1991 he helped the club to the finals for the first time since 1982. Gary played 233 games for the North Sydney Bears and 17 games at Parramatta.

2021 Distinguished Past Student Award
ROD LAVER (1949)

Rod Laver was born into a tennis family in Rockhampton, the third of four children to Roy Laver and Melba Roffey. A tennis court was always a familiar feature in every house the Laver family lived in. Despite his small build, Rod was not discouraged and showed promise on the court from a young age. During his early school years at RGS, the School’s yearbook reported on the Minor Tennis team as “having more than ordinary ability and their future will be watched with interest.” (Capricornus Yearbook, 1949). At 15 years of age, Rod turned his focus to playing tennis and in 1956, won the US Junior Championship. Rod Laver would go on to become the first male tennis player to win two calendar year Grand Slams - with wins at Wimbledon, the Australian, French and US Opens in both 1962 and again in 1969. Rod was ranked number one in the world in nine different years and ended his career with 200 singles titles, including 11 Grand Slam titles. Widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of tennis, Rod also represented Australia in Davis Cup, helping the team to win five titles. His Davis Cup team captain Harry Hopman gave him the nickname, “Rocket”. Rod Laver’s blend of aggressive play and rapid movement made him one of the first modern players in the sport. In 1981, Rod was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and in 2000 was bestowed the honour of having centre court at Melbourne Park renamed Rod Laver Arena.

2021 Distinguished Past Student Award
RACHEL DOWNIE (1987)

In 2020, Rachel Downie was awarded the Queensland Australian of the Year for her work with education and helping young people to say something when they see or experience harm. Twenty-five years ago Rachel became an educator to help young people flourish. After losing a Year 9 student to suicide, Rachel decided she needed to find a way to support young people to seek help for themselves and their peers. This led Rachel to developing and self-funding Stymie – an old-fashioned word for stop – to allow students to anonymously report harm without fear. Students use Stymie to report family violence, bullying, cyber-bullying, depression, illegal activity, harassment, self-harm, and harm to their communities. The Rockhampton Grammar School is a supporter of Stymie. “As a teacher I very quickly realised that there was no point in trying to educate kids if we couldn’t make them feel safe and loved and fulfilled - we have to nurture them into learning,’’ Rachel said. It was a teacher at RGS who inspired her to try and help the next generation of students - Mrs Johnson. Rachel says the Year 10 Art teacher “really connected with me as a human”. “She saw a side of me that needed something beyond the curriculum,” Rachel said. “I really flourished through her support and I felt really inspired, I wanted to do that for other kids.” While Rachel studied to be an Art teacher, she also chose to specialise in Physical Education and English, to boost her employability. “I became a teacher because I wanted to be a person who was seen as safe and supportive, and I wanted for kids to realise their creative potential” Rachel said.

2021 Outstanding Achiever Award
JOHN PRICE (1985)

Raised in Rockhampton, John Price enjoyed Biology and English studies at The Rockhampton Grammar School. During his school years John won various debating and public speaking awards and in Year 12 received the Student Communicator of the Year Award. After completing school he hoped to pursue medicine or physiotherapy. However, he was accepted into an Arts/Law degree at the University of Queensland (his third preference). John graduated with Honours and worked for a national law firm before starting a 20 year career with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission). ASIC is Australia’s integrated corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator. The Federal Government appointed John to the regulator’s board in 2012 and he was re-appointed as an ASIC Commissioner in 2015, 2018 and for a brief period in 2020. John was also appointed to CAMAC (Corporate and Markets Advisory Committee, a law reform advisory body), the Financial Reporting Council (monitoring financial reporting and audit) and the Council of Financial Regulators (Australia’s peak body coordinating financial regulation). Internationally, John represented Australia through IOSCO (International Organisation of Securities Commissions) and the Trans-Tasman Banking Council. In 2020, John was appointed Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Head of Regulatory Compliance based in Melbourne.

2021 Central Queensland Community Contribution Award
HUGH GRANT (1957)

Hugh Chapman Grant was a Head Day Boy and Prefect at The Rockhampton Grammar School in 1957. Raised in Rockhampton, Hugh was the recipient of the best exemplar of the school motto and was also the Archer Cup athletics winner in both 1956 and 1957. These school accolades and leadership opportunities would pave the way for Hugh’s career, both in the legal profession and in supporting local community organisations. In 1964, following university studies, Hugh was admitted as a solicitor in the State of Queensland. In 1966, Hugh joined the Grant & Simpson Lawyers partnership. This was the start of a long and rewarding career in the legal profession with Hugh working at Grant & Simpson Lawyers until his retirement in 2006. Hugh was a Member of the Council of Queensland Law Society from 1983 - 1997. During that time he was also President of the Society in 1996 and 1997. From 1991 - 1998, Hugh would also serve as a Board Member on the Queensland Law Foundation, a charitable trust. In the 1990s, Hugh was also a member of the Board of Iwasaki Foundation, another charitable foundation, and in 2009 was appointed Chairman of the Iwasaki Foundation. In 2008, Hugh received an Order of Australia Medal for Services to Law and the Community.

2021 Central Queensland Community Contribution Award
ERROL PAYNE (1961)

Emeritus Professor Errol Payne has made a substantial contribution to the development of higher education in Central Queensland. His commitment started in 1967 when, as a foundation staff member, he commenced in the role of assistant chemistry lecturer with the then fledgling Queensland Institute of Technology (Capricornia). QIT (Capricornia) progressed through several institutional changes to become CQUniversity Australia we know it today. Professor Payne was Dean of the University’s Faculty of Applied Science from 1990 until 1997, and Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Health and Sciences from 1998 until 2005. From these senior roles, he played an important part in the development of the other CQU campuses in Bundaberg, Gladstone and Mackay. Following his 39 years of service as both a teacher and senior academic leader at CQUniversity , and its predecessors, Professor Payne’s achievements continued as a volunteer with the Australian Country Hospital Heritage Association at the Rockhampton Heritage Village, and through the Errol and Berenice Payne 50th Anniversary Scholarship, which he and his wife sponsor to support students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science (Honours) at CQUniversity. Professor Payne is also an Honorary Life Member of the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute. In 2019, Professor Payne was awarded the Rockhampton Regional Council Citizen of the Year honour.

2021 Past Staff Life Membership Award
PAM DRILLIS (2015)

Pam Drillis was the former Head of Home Economics at The Rockhampton Grammar School until her retirement in 2015. Many students considered Pam the “mother” of RGS. Pam was one of just two female teaching staff when she started at RGS. Initially employed by Headmaster Mr Arthur Butler for a trial period of six weeks, and with two young children at home, Pam was quickly appointed full time after just three weeks. Pam arrived to two stoves not working, no kitchen power source and there were no teacher aides. Many trips were made to the supermarket to supply the ingredients for cooking. The Home Economics subject changed over Pam’s 32 years at the School, including Pam having the opportunity to teach cooking in the RGS Primary School. Pam’s special memories are all the students she met over the years and the way they engaged in the subject. Pam also enjoyed her role with the School’s Golf co-curricular programme. On Pam’s retirement from RGS she said, “After 32 years I will miss driving into the school with its beautiful landscaped surrounds, the friendliness and dedication of the students to achieve to their best ability, RGS Staff and ancillary staff that have helped me.”