In Awards by Clyde Mooney

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Ahead of its annual Awards for Excellence, the AHA NSW has announced two new life members – long-serving AHA NSW executive member Rolly De With, and stalwart Balmain publican Maureen Thornett.

In conjunction with his time representing the AHA in Newcastle, De With owns and operates the booming town’s Junction Hotel.

Closer to AHA HQ, Thornett has been a staple of Balmain’s strong pub community for decades at the Royal Oak.

Both were granted their coveted life member pins at a special ceremony last week.

Thornett recalled that when she began in the business women were not even allowed in the main bar of a hotel, and described the induction as a “great honour”.

“The sun was definitely shining on me … it was wonderful to have my family included and share the day and the experience with them.”

Introduced by fellow executive member Des Kennedy, De With praised his mentors and family.

“I have been fortunate to find success within an industry that is both exciting, challenging and rewarding, but I could not accept such an honour without paying tribute to those who came before me – those who taught me what it means, not just to run a hotel, but to be a hotelier.

“I also owe so much to my family – my wife Helen and our children Nicholas and Sophia.

“To succeed in this industry requires time, effort and commitment. Spending 30 years as a hotelier can take its toll, but I have the great fortune of being part of a family that is not only strong, but loyal and which understands the importance of never ever giving up. Without them and the mentors who came before me I would not have been able to achieve so much throughout my career, so it is to them this honour really belongs.”

Speaking to the crowd of existing life members and guests, AHA NSW and National President Scott Leach noted that such titles are not given lightly.

“It is a rare honour, given to those few who have shown a lifelong commitment to the industry. I would like to congratulate both Rolly and Maureen on their years of service to our great industry.”

Rolly De With and Maureen Thornett