Glenn McGrath

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A sporting superstar is landing in the Manning-Great Lakes for the 2010 Business Awards. Story by Peter Lyne.

Australian cricket legend Glenn McGrath is heading to the Manning Valley this month as special guest at the Manning Valley Business Awards and several functions on Friday, September 10.

Nicknamed ‘Pigeon’, the tall former Australian player ended his career by taking more wickets than any other Australian fast bowler in Test Match history, being rewarded for his deeds in 2008 by becoming a Member of the Order of Australia.

Born 9 February 1970, he is one of the most highly regarded fast bowlers in the country’s cricketing history, and is a primary contributor to Australia’s domination of world cricket during the 1990s and into the 2000s. Glenn grew up in New South Wales, and was picked for the NSW team in the 1992 / 93 season, and by the next Australian summer was in the national side after playing only eight state matches.

He was not the quickest bowler, but relied on constant accuracy and the ability to make the ball scream and being able to generate a steep bounce using a high arm action – the advantage of being six foot six tall.

He played in 124 test matches, took 563 wickets and played 250 one day internationals, collecting 381 wickets. He also was the first Australian fast bowler to play in 100 Test Matches and was crowned International Cricketer of the year for the 1996 / 97 season.

Since retirement he has maintained his popularity, attracting big crowds wherever he appears with his many roles in the media, the McGrath Foundation charity or as ambassador for Elders.

Professionally, he has always demonstrated an unerring will to succeed, but off the field it is the way he has handled personal struggles and his ability to relate to rural communities that has gained him growing admiration. Glenn has shown enormous strength and dignity, setting an inspirational example to everyone.

The role with Elders allows Glenn to spend time in the environment he loves – the Australian country region – as a rural ambassador. He has held this role since 2006.

“Being a country boy, I enjoy the role. I was born and bred on a 1,200 acre sheep and wheat farm near Narromine, so it is a good fit being with Elders.

“I cover everything for Elders, doing in-house employee promotions, visit branches, schools and everything Elders are involved in.”

Glenn has never lost his ties with the rural land, and 14 years ago purchased 34,000 acres north-west of Bourke. His brother and his family run the property, with Glenn heading there often to re-charge his batteries and do some work.

“At the moment we run nearly 4,000 sheep, which are mainly Merino Ewes with Dorset Rams and a few cattle.”

Glenn believes the culture and lifestyle within rural communities is priceless, as they have a great sense of compassion and unification.

“During the tough times, farming can be hard. The success after the tough times is very rewarding. Getting through droughts and varying prices can be very tough for farmers, towns and the community.

“The strength of rural communities always seems to pull everyone through.”

McGrath said he was looking forward to heading to Taree and will be busy meeting businessmen, farmers, raising money for the McGrath Foundation and spending time with cricket juniors.

“I’ll only be in town for a day and half and hope to see some of the area,” Glenn said.

Glenn says he is lucky to be able to combine his Elders ambassador role with the McGrath Foundation. The foundation was originally begun by Glenn and his late wife Jane in 2002, following Jane’s initial diagnosis and recovery from Breast Cancer. One of the two aims of the Foundation is to fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses.

Following Jane McGrath’s treatment for secondary cancer in 2003, Jane had access to a Breast Care Nurse for the first time and became aware of the tremendous impact that they can have on a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing during and after treatment.

Her experience led to the development of the Foundation’s two main aims: that every woman diagnosed with Breast Cancer and her family should have access to a Breast Care Nurse in communities right across Australia; and promoting breast awareness in young women.

“Our Breast Care Nurses are specially trained to act as patient advocates. They coordinate care for women experiencing breast cancer, their families and their carers.

“Since the Foundation began we have worked with the community across the country to assess the areas in most need. At the moment nearly 90% of all McGrath Breast Care Nurses are in rural and regional areas. Up until 2010 the Foundation has supported more than 4,500 diagnosed Australian families – we are now in every state and territory.”

Jane McGrath’s death at the age of 42 from Breast Cancer has seen the McGrath Foundation gain growing support. Glenn used the tragedy to fight for more information and research into the disease which claims the lives of about one in nine women around the world each year.

He has been able, along with the Foundation’s Board, to gain a pledge of 12 million dollars in 2008 to help assist funding for McGrath Breast Care Nurses in 44 communities over three years.

Recently Glenn entered the world of publishing and authored the book, ‘The Glenn McGrath Barbecue Cookbook: Barbecue with the Master’.

“I enjoy cooking, and the barbecue is one of my favourite past times. The book has been popular, and I may do another.”

Since the death of his wife Jane, he has raised his two children and still plays the odd game of cricket in the World 20 / 20. Always the devoted husband and father, he recently  found a new love, Sara Leonardi.

Glenn McGrath will be a welcome visitor to the Manning Valley and will have plenty of activities giving him the opportunity to meet the locals.

“I encourage everyone to come along and attend these functions. We always have plenty of fun. The awards will have some memorabilia for auction, and I look forward to meeting the local business owners. Business Awards are a great way to salute the hard work of owners,” he said.

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