John Hind-Smith, a native of Yorkshire, England, hiked and caved extensively in the UK, before joining the RAF in WWII. He ended up on the Sunshine Coast in 1960, where he worked at the mill and then ran his own business until 1985.
John’s real passion though, was for nature and he hiked extensively around Mount Elphinstone and the Tetrahedron. He freely shared his vast knowledge of our ecosystem and was a lifetime member of the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society (formerly the Marsh Society), director of conservation for the Gibsons Wildlife Club, a founding member of the Salmon Enhancement Society, the Elves Club, the Search and Rescue Group, and of course of the Tetrahedron Alliance. John was instrumental in having the area preserved as a provincial park and a beautiful sub-alpine lake in the park bears his name.
Those of us fortunate enough to have known John, remember him as a gentle man, modest and gracious; but who left an inspirational legacy, which the SCCA carries on in the form of this award. Although several excellent candidates were put forward to receive the award this year, Rick O’Neill epitomizes the spirit of the John Hind-Smith award in every way.
Rick is deeply dedicated to the environment and like John himself, toils away quietly, never for self recognition, but on behalf of our natural environment. Whether sampling for forage fish along intertidal areas, identifying amphibians on Mount Elphinstone or photographing the natural world as a way to bring the forest ecosystems into focus for others, Rick does it all with only the environment in mind.
He has devoted countless hours to protect biodiversity on the coast and he has taken many groups out for walks to teach about mushrooms, amphibian, birds and trees. As a founder of Elphinstone Living Forest, Rick was the driving force behind developing a comprehensive ecosystem plan.
He has made formal complaints to the Forest Practices Board about clearcuts in sensitive areas and has spent days alone in the rain, flagging land as important riparian zones. Recently he took it upon himself to publish a pamphlet describing the amphibians of the Sunshine Coast.
Although a mild man, Rick does not back down from controversy, delivering eloquent speeches about the need to protect our forest environment from destruction. There is much more to be said about Rick’s understanding of the ecosystem and his ongoing efforts to educate and advocate, but in sum, his important work inspires others and provides a fine example of what one determined person can accomplish.
Press Release from Sunshine Coast Conservation Association