Rockhampton’s 50 Most Influential people: Number 9
Like 'em, love 'em or "never heard of 'em", these are your locals who strive to make Rockhampton a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Some of them were born here and some of them moved here to make the most of the family-friendly facilities, opportunities for employment or to spend more time with their extended families.
Whether they're a community leader or someone working hard behind the scenes, we think you'll be surprised how humble and grateful our Fifty Most Influential are.
Number 9: GAVIN SHUKER
Gavin Shuker was that skinny kid at school with a bowl cut who was good at Red Rover and sports day sprints but "not much more than that".
Growing up around Nerimbera, he spent weekends running around the streets of Lakes Creek where his grandmother had a house just down the corner from his cousins.
"I reckon social media has a lot to do with the demise of community today, because kids get so used to being bullied, they don't want to look foolish so they just don't have a go," he said.
"For a lot of kids, their sports coach can be the first role model who can help guide them in life and teach them respect."
Mr Shuker worked his way up through the ranks of touch football until he captained the Australian men's open side at the World Cup.
"It makes me so proud to come from Rockhampton which is regarded as the nursery for touch football which has about a million participants around Australia," he said.
"The last Junior World Cup, out of 60 players, there were about a dozen of them from Central Queensland which, for a city of about 80,000 people, is incredible."
Mr Shuker burst into the retail market in 2007 with a range of touch uniforms which get worn locally in schools such as North Rockhampton High and 'Cressos', as well as being shipped around the world.
On any given day, there are players in Germany, Japan, France, New Zealand, China and the Philippines who wear touch uniforms out of a shop front in East Street, opposite the post office.
"One of my first bosses at the Volunteer Fire Brigade, Lee Johnson, taught me you had to want to try and become a leader, or you never would be," Mr Shuker said.
"My best skill is being able to communicate with people from different areas."
So when the Rocky Sports Club went up for auction in 2017, Mr Shuker saw the perfect opportunity to being the region's sports people together for a chat.
"People from local sporting clubs always look out for a home, a place they can go back to for their meetings and annual dinners," he said.
"People are so time poor now, volunteers can't keep all the little clubs up and running, so we needed to help each other through networking and combined marketing."
Mr Shuker watched the Lions Creek venue draw in 15 clubs at first, then 35.
"Now we're home to 75 different sports club with 23,000 members and growing," he said.
"At our last annual dinner, we had people from dragon boats sharing ideas with people from the MG car club, people who wouldn't normally get the opportunity to get to know each other.
"It's like they say in that movie, "Build it and they will come"."
Now he's determined to use that collective expertise to take a look at what Rockhampton doesn't have, in comparison with other regional centres, and "make ourselves better".
"We don't really have any other functions facility than the Pilbeam Theatre which seats 900, and we've got Beef Australia which brings in $70 million," he said.
"Look at the new hockey facilities - because of them, we got to host the New Zealand side aiming to qualify for Olympics.
"But there are tiny country towns which have better netball facilities than we do."
Mr Shuker said, with visitors bring in an average $232 per person per day, Central Queensland needed to invest more infrastructure to attract sports families from out of town and overseas.
Tourism aside, Mr Shuker said the Sports Club is having a transformative effect on his staff, many of whom he's known since they were teenagers.
He spoke proudly about Jack Corbett who undertook a Cert III in Management Skills with the club and, only two years later, was announced its Employee of the Year.
And Jack Hughes, who trained in touch football since he was about 12, who won the Queensland Young Manager of the Year award.
"We went to the conference and Jack was the only manager born in the 90s, all the others were born in the 60s and 70s, and he walked way with the top gong," Mr Shuker said.
"That just shows the power of the sports community in raising children up with a sense of self-respect and offering them opportunities to give back to the community which supports them."
Number 8 will be revealed at 12 noon Friday 03 July.