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At the Awards and Presentation dinner of the 2024 annual Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA) conference in Mildura 20 April 2024, Beryl Hartley from Narromine Gliding Club was awarded the AWPA Nancy-Bird Walton Memorial Trophy. This award is AWPA’s most prestigious award and it is awarded for the most noteworthy contribution to aviation by a woman of Australasia. Beryl received a standing ovation from the 200 guests.

Beryl Hartley APWA trophy

Beryl Hartley and Barbara Trappett AWPA President  Photo by Kathy Mexted

By Dominique Brassier

Beryl needs no introduction to our gliding community as she is well known for all her work, dedication and contribution to gliding and aviation for the last 59 years.

Indeed, she has been not only been involved in the day-to-day operations and management of the Narromine Gilding Club but has also volunteered at management level in the NSW gliding Association and Gliding Australia for over 35 years.

She was also our 'sometimes feared badge lady' for over 35 years only retiring recently from the role but Beryl is still retaining the role of custodian of gliding records.

Beryl has been involved at the grass roots level helping low experience cross country glider pilots as well as at the highest level, as crew and captain for Australian and Japanese teams at world gliding championships. Beryl was also the driving force behind and fundraiser for two successful world gliding championships in Narromine in which she held major roles. In between, Beryl Hartley has been involved in running and/or supporting many competitions held in Narromine. In 1994, in response to low entry at National and Regional competitions, Beryl, Chris Stephens, Nick Hunt and husband Arnie created the Narromine cup, a fun handicap event where pilots of all levels in gliders of all performance level could participate and have the potential to win! Beryl has ensured it remained a success ever since. Beryl also has served on the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) Gliding Sporting Code committee, for countless years.

Her involvement also goes beyond gliding. Beryl’s tireless efforts have helped build and improve not only the Narromine Gliding Club but also the Narromine airport and its extensive flying facilities. She is also a founding and present member of the Narromine Aviation Museum committee. Beryl along with family and club members also support the many aviation activities held at Narromine: thirteen years of the Easter AUF flyins, Australian Aerobatic championships, AusFly and numerous aviation group gatherings.

As a result, Beryl Hartley has been awarded many honours including AWPA Soaring Award, GA Life Membership, the GA Bill Iggulden award, the FAI Pelagia Majewska Medal. Recently in 2022, she was awarded the FAI's Paul Tissandier (awarded to ‘those who have served the cause of Aviation in general and Sporting Aviation). In recognition of the financial reward to NSW and the Narromine district from the participation of 28 countries and 80 entries to the 2023 World Championships, on Australia Day this year, Beryl was awarded Narromine Citizen of the Year and the WGC2023 awarded as the Event of the Year.

Beryl wishes to share these words about her trophy: “I was delighted to receive this award as recognition of the many years I have enjoyed spending time with volunteers in our sport. Since 1965 I have been a member of the early golden years of gliding in Australia. Private aircraft ownership was limited to a handful of pilots and the many clubs were busy hubs for flying, fun and families. To the many volunteer friends who answered the call for assistance when needed and who shared the memories of our sport both here and overseas - Thank you. This is an award to share with you.”

Beryl indicated she will display the trophy at the Narromine Aviation Museum. I have also asked a few of Beryl’s long-time friends to share their thoughts.

Robert Hall AM
Many thanks for the opportunity to support the recognition of the huge contribution to the Gliding Movement made by Beryl Hartley over several decades. Many of us have contributed to the Movement to help achieve what we considered was needed - but Beryl had the ability to distance herself from what she might wish to do and apply her considerable management and negotiating skills to what is best for the Movement as a whole. She did this over many decades and it is not easy to detail the many issues she pursued. An excellent example of this occurred when I was Vice President of the GFA and Beryl was President. Only one year into her term as President she correctly realised that the important matter which was not being appropriately addressed due to the introduction of the GST, was the position of Treasurer. As a consequence, and at her insistence, she took on the position of Treasurer and passed to me the job of President. This approach was not a single action, but it was how she acted over decades, frequently, correctly deciding which issue was not being appropriately addressed and taking on that matter rather than the issue which she personally wished to be involved in. It was this selfless approach to the development and maintenance of the GFA which meant that she was always at the centre of the development of the movement. The whole Movement would have been the poorer without her contribution. It is difficult to see anyone who would have had more a more positive on the movement.

Micheal Cleaver
I first met Beryl in 1975 when I volunteered to help with the National Championships at Narromine in December of that year. She was, and has been ever since, one of the mainstays of the Narromine Gliding Club, including being a primary organiser of two World championships, at least a dozen National Championships, countless State Comps and every  Narromine Cup and Coaching week since their inception. During that time she also served a short time as GFA President, leaving that position to become GFA Treasurer, a role she carried out with great success. Beryl has also served as Treasurer of NSW Gliding, and has become highly adept at obtaining funding for NSW Gliding from State and Federal Governments, primarily but not exclusively the Department of Sport & Recreation. Earlier in her career, Beryl was also a competent solo pilot before the duties of motherhood took her attention and she became an administrator instead, and a crew member and Captain of Australian Gliding Teams, also contributing to Australian involvement in the International Gliding Commission of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the world body that administers air sports. Another side of "Aunty Beryl" has been her support for young pilot development, administering funds to assist young glider pilots advance within the sport and encouraging them to gain aviation-related careers. Beryl was the only Auntie in the Uncles Foundation which was established by Paul Matthews to assist young NSW pilots. ...and Beryl hasn't retired yet!

Terry Cubley AM
Beryl has been a long time mentor to guide me throughout my involvement with world championships as a pilot (where she was frequently the Team Captain) and then later when I took on the role of Team Captain and then as the Championships Director, where I regularly sought her counsel. Beryl’s attention to detail and knowledge of gliding at all levels meant that her opinions were sought and then acted upon. If you weren’t quite sure what to do, you just needed to ask Beryl for her advice and she was willing to explain the best option. We often talk about the value of volunteers, and Beryl was generally the first to put her hand up. Beryl’s passion was gliding sport, and she was relentless in her endeavours to help members succeed, whether with understanding the sporting code and claiming their Silver badge, or flying a world record, or competing in far distant sites. Beryl and Arnie supported my participation in the New Zealand world championships at Omarama in 1995, lending me their ASW20 (UKI) for the competition and being Team Captain. Lots of encouragement and advice meant that it was a very successful event for me and the team. Pilots all over the world are well aware of Narromine due to Beryl’s hard work in successfully running the operation and events. This award from the AWPA is well deserved and goes together with the many other national and international awards that Beryl has received.

I am sure many more pilots who have known Beryl for many years would have so much more to add if the “likes” and “comments” on the NSW Gliding Association Facebook post dated, April 26th, are any indication to go by. I will finish however by one comment from the gliding grass roots perspective.

Dominique Brassier
I have only known Beryl since I first attended the Narromine cup in 2018. All I can say is that, for me, a middle-aged woman just starting gliding cross country at the time, Beryl encouraged me, helped me with task setting, sharing her invaluable knowledge of weather conditions and terrain. Feeling comfortable, welcome, encouraged and supported was so important to me to gain the confidence to tackle longer cross-country tasks. Beryl extends this welcome to any cross-country pilot visiting Narromine: year after year, comp after comp, course after course. Beryl and her family also spend countless hours preparing delicious, balanced and nutritious dinners for courses, camp, competition participants. Admittedly, it is part of Beryl’s constant effort to raise funds for the Narromine Gliding Club but more importantly for me, it provides each of us with such a luxury at the end of long tiring days.

Beryl finished by thanking her team of friends and volunteers that helped over the years but I think this article would not be complete without acknowledging team Beryl’s number 1 supporter, her husband Arnie Hartley. Arnie is also Narromine Gliding Club CFI, Airworthiness officer, Tug Master and Sunday night barbecue chef, who not only cooks a perfect blue steak but also quietly gets everything done in the background and on the flight line so that courses, camps, competitions held in Narromine can run smoothly. Arnie, Beryl and their children and grandchildren have accomplished so much as a team for the Narromine gliding club, the Aviation Museum and gliding in general. For example, Beryl and Arnie have been one of the major driving forces behind creating an environment and obtaining funding to facilitate NSW Gliding instructor courses and behind the new instructor course. As Gliding Australia puts it on their website: “Beryl and Arnie are the unsung heroes of Narromine”.

Congratulations Beryl, Congratulations team Beryl.

Beryl Hartley
Current - Narromine Gliding Club President and Treasurer, NSW Gliding Treasurer, current NSW alternate Gliding Australia board. Past – NSW Gliding Vice President, NSW Gliding President, Vice President Gliding Australia, President Gliding Australia, Treasurer Gliding Australia.

Robert Hall AM
Bathurst Soaring Club - Past club Vice- President and CFI, Past - GFA Chair of Operations, GFA Vice-President, GFA President, President of Air Sport Australia Confederation, Sport aviation CASA Representative, Sport Aviation Airservices Representative.

Micheal Cleaver
GFA Board Member for NSWG, Vice-President NSWG, L3 Instructor and Annual-rated Airworthiness Inspector. 50 years involvement with gliding in NSW clubs - Wagga Wagga 1973-82, Canberra 1982-2015, Temora 1982-present.)

Terry Cubley AM
Geelong Gliding club -– previously GFA Chair of Sports (Soaring Development) , GFA President, GFA Executive Officer, VSA President, Club President and CFI, FAI and IGC Representative.