The Class of 2018 were inducted into the BC Rugby Hall of Fame this weekend amid a celebration of some of our sport’s greatest contributors. Five esteemed individuals, Alan Hudson (Builder/Referee), Ruth Hellerud-Brown (Builder/Player), Scott Stewart (Player), Winston Stanley (Player) and Ian Birtwell (Builder/Coach) were joined by friends by family and friends from the rugby world at the gala dinner to recognise their collective achievements.
The function suite at Element Vancouver Metrotown was full of warm conversation and laughter as the guests arrived, friends reconnecting and reminiscing. The confident voice and wry wit of Global BC’s Chris Gailus, MC for the event, welcomed the gathered audience before introducing the evening’s inductees to rapturous applause.
Following a delicious buffet and much conversation amongst the guests, the evening moved on to the awards section. Prior to the Hall of Fame inductions, Mimi Applebe was presented with the Joan Spray Award by Joan Porter. This award is presented annually to a female member of the local BC Rugby community who through volunteering, has exhibited dedication through a lifelong contribution to the sport. Mimi’s years of involvement with the grassroots of the game singled her out as a thoroughly deserving recipient. In her acceptance, Applebe noted how lucky she is to be present for many of the “firsts” in an athlete’s career, and endeavors to stay committed to helping more young people fall in love with the game of rugby.
Next, the evening progressed to the induction ceremony for the Class of 2018. One by one, videos highlighting the career and achievements of each inductee were played out to the room, followed by each inductee being presented with a commemorative plaque by a significant individual from their past. Bruce Kuklinski, Past-President of the Vancouver Island Referee Society, was on hand to present Alan Hudson with his plaque, while Jen Ross, former National Player and current BC Rugby Board Director, followed suit for Ruth Hellerud-Brown. Scott Stewart was unable to attend in person but his brother Grant ably stepped up to the plate when Doug Sturrock, former coach of both Scott & Grant and Chair of the BC Rugby Hall of Fame Committee, handed over the plaque. Nik Witkowski, former National Player and current BC Rugby Board Director, made the presentation to former teammate Winston Stanley and the evening concluded with John Lecky, former National Player and Past-President of BC Rugby, presenting Ian Birtwell with his plaque.
As each inductee gave a speech of thanks to the gathered audience, their words were full of praise for all the others who helped them on their journeys in the sport. In their own individual way, each recognized the power that rugby has to build deep and long-lasting bonds of friendship and camaraderie, along with instilling a deep sense of integrity and respect. The Class of 2018 is a shining example of the simple fact that rugby is a sport that stays with you for life.
A final component of the evening’s proceedings was the live auction, masterfully conducted by Mike James, as well as a raffle. Attendees dug deep into their wallets to contribute to worthy causes and a number of lucky individuals walked away with great prizes, including a Langara Fishing Adventure for two.