Venues NSW chair John Quayle is encouraging Wollongong to keep drawing on the experience of Stuart Barnes.
Speaking at his farewell Mr Quayle said it is a real bonus for the city that WIN Entertainment Centre’s general manager of 19 years is staying in the city. “You can’t leave that knowledge on the shelf. It is very rarely you find someone in the community with not only the knowledge but also the passion and drive he has. While ever you have that you don’t want to lose him to another town who would like to have someone like Stuart”.
Mr Quayle and Bob Milward spoke of how he brought a new way of doing things and how the city is better for it. “The venue association was not there 20 years ago. People like Stuart convinced them of the importance of getting a proper structure, getting the proper knowledge and driving a proper process in one of the most important industries”.
Mr Quayle said entertainment facilities were important because they created so much joy. He said keeping Mr Barnes involved in input around further developing the venue industry would continue to benefit the region. “He is too young to retire and it would be terrible if we leave his knowledge on the shelf. 20 years ago we were all part of Sydney but now..cities like this and Newcastle are doing things better. They are bringing expertise, they are bringing entertainment and they are bringing sport. And that is why this (convention centre) project here is vital”.
Milton O'Brien and Chuck Harmison described the big turnout and heartfelt message as a fitting farewell to someone who had done so much for Wollongong.
Mr Barnes described the whole event as “incredibly humbling”. “It has been a great journey of 18 years. A time where I have learnt how to work with the community. I think that is how things happen in the Illawarra. We come together and we actually achieve things”.
Looking back he said he had the pleasure of being involved in some great events and he was taking away some wonderful memories. “The favourite one is still Roger Daltrey. I got to meet Roger Daltrey side of stage 22 years on and 12,000 miles from when I used to follow him in around the UK”.
Mr Barnes and his wife Antoinette (Annie) will keep living in the Illawarra. “I would like to carry on inputting into the community and do a bit of consultancy work. My favourite phrase is I am in the business of memories”. He also has a piece of “unfinished business” he dearly wants to see happen. Just as Wollongong benefited from a major entertainment centre almost two decades ago he knows it will also benefit from a convention centre.