Meet our region’s baton bearers – Don and Dianne Morris

Double Happiness for Biloela Couple…

Learning that they would be runners 1 and 2 in the Gladstone leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay was “the icing on the cake” for Biloela couple Don and Dianne Morris:

“Initially when we knew that we’d both been nominated, we were saying “What will we do, if one gets in and the other doesn’t?” Di said.

“Finding out we’d both got in, and then being number 1 and 2, well it’s wonderful. It’s very special.”

Don and Dianne are planning to come over to Gladstone from our neighbours in Callide the night before, because they need to be on the starting blocks in Goondoon Street by 7 am on the 24th.

Don and Dianne both grew up in Biloela, but left to attend university. After their marriage in 1979 they left to work abroad “never to come back again”, but fate had different plans, and they moved back to Biloela and have lived there for the last thirty-five years.

“We do have a long history of volunteering in the area, but really, without the community supporting us, we couldn’t do it,” she said.

“Because of my nursing background, we had a significant issue here, seven or eight years ago, where GPs were abandoning Biloela, basically,” she said.

“We saw the need in the community so I spearheaded the committee that built a 12-consulting room practice here for the town. We were granted major funding, although that’s not a charity, it really was a good cause for the area and we raised millions of dollars, to establish the centre. That all came from the community because we needed it.”

Di said she gravitated to the medical causes such as raising awareness of suicide, because of her nursing background, but has also volunteered to bring other events to Bilo such as food festivals and comedy festivals. She is also the chair of Biloela Enterprise, looking toward the future for Biloela.

Mid-interview, Di hands the baton over to Don, just as they will during the relay who relates the story of his charity involvement in the Tour de Cure:

“It started out as a bit of a claustrophobia problem with me,” Dianne said. “I don’t like flying because I feel so hemmed in, so Don said “Let’s cycle there.”

 “Having thirty-five to forty years in business here, we’ve been involved in community events and fundraising all that time, but I suppose in latter years I’ve concentrated on fundraising for the Tour de Cure,” Don said.

“That’s a Sydney based fundraising group that uses cycling as a means of raising money, and the money they raise is largely used for cancer research but also for cancer support.”

“We’ve been doing that since 2009,” he said.

Over the last nine years, Di and Don have organised local events to run alongside the Tour de Cure’s major national rides. In 2009 one of the stopovers of the main race was in Gladstone.

To date, they’ve raised over $300,000; “This year we’re riding from Winton in Western Queensland to Darwin and we have a budget of about $50,000 to raise from that ride, and we’re on track with that,” Don said.

Don also supports “Sailability” which provides the experience of sailing to people with a disability: “I think the most important thing to recognise is that a group of us from here are involved in that.  You can’t do it by yourself.  We’ve got an amazing group of friends and business associates and that includes people all over the region,” Don said.

Don said he isn’t aware if any other married couples have both been chosen to carry the baton:

“I’ve been training Di for the past couple of months on the handover, so I think she’ll be okay.”

“I don’t know how many couples were chosen, that’s a pretty unique thing.

“I know Anna Meares started the baton off in the UK and she’s a supporter of our cause, I actually have some things lined up in my office for Anna to sign for a fundraiser,” he said.