On Tuesday night John Trevillian and David Grant were awarded an Australian Event Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
Each were introduced by their long time friend and associate Prue MacSween.
This is the transcript of Prue’s introduction of John Trevillian
He’s been mistaken countless times for James Morrison, has a table in his honour at Bill and Tony’s, regularly tells Heads of State where to go and has a permanent beaming smile on his face!
This man has dealt with Popes and Princes, prima donnas and pimps, powerhouses and politicians….and survived their egos and minders, protocols and peccadilloes.
He started off as a consultant in education and came up with the Experience initiative where students, including those with disabilities got the opportunity of work experience – a milestone idea that continues to this very day in schools around the country.
Mild-mannered and passionate about sport and surf and armed with an infectious sense of humour, he joined the Australia Day Council as CEO in 1985 and will chalk up an incredible 30 this Australia Day…his vision and leadership saw it become one of the biggest and most successful annual events in Sydney.
Because of his unique ability to bring out the best in the people he manages and to deliver and co-ordinate the toughest, most challenging gigs, he then became the go-to man for all major events in this State.
He was appointed the Executive Director of the Government’s Protocol and Special Events branch and has survived many Premiers and Ministers. I can’t wait for the tell-all book!
It has been a career of milestones and memories.
At the end of 1999, the New Millennium beckoned and Sydney’s harbour foreshore areas were facing the biggest party the city had ever seen. Concern over Y2K was at its peak.
Across the world, planners were looking to see what happened in Sydney, because it was one of the first major cities to reach midnight. They thought they could make adjustments before the clock struck midnight in their own countries if we stuffed up. Many nations were screening footage of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations with the Harbour celebrations providing those initial images of the Year 2000. The pressure was on.
With the eyes of the world on Sydney, NSW government agencies and the City of Sydney were also looking at the prospect of a complete power failure and black-out, if Y2K did its worst. There were major risks around managing crowds, waste, utilities, traffic and transport and, most importantly, the safety of the 900,000 who came to view the Millennium fireworks.
In the lead-up to that night, the NSW Premier’s Department and Olympic Coordination Authority established a secretariat for government coordination. Its aim was to improve the communication, coordination and planning across Government, and minimise the risks associated with this monumental event.
The first few meetings were challenging, with some players being territorial and protective of their plans and knowledge. Even the number of people within an area at a major event was closely guarded information. Our intrepid hero charmed his way through it all.
Happily as we know, the bug didn’t bite and the new year ushered an immensely successful and safe event.
I had the pleasure of working with this legend through countless Australia Days, the Bicentenary, the Centenary of Federation and Sydney’s Olympic Bid. That night of the Bid Announcement I remember well….our legend was so excited when Samaranch said ssssSydney, he threw his mobile into the Harbour. He wasn’t contactable for hours later.
He blotted his copy book the next day when, having had no sleep for close to 48 hours, he sat in the front row and snored through the whole performance of Three Men and a Baby Grand at the Tilbury Hotel. The piano player was glaring so much, I thought the baby grand and some bathwater at him.
Our friend played a large part in delivering the “Best Olympics ever” in his role as Director of the Olympics’ Urban Domain. In that role, he changed the Olympics forever when he came up with the idea of creating live sites around the city, an initiative adopted by the International Olympic Committee for all future Olympic Games.
He oversaw that landmark public event, the 2001 Reconciliation Walk, the Rugby World Cup in 2003, APEC in 2007 and, most notably, the 75th anniversary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrations and all the New Years Eve celebrations. Yes, he masterminded and co-ordinated them all.
His branch conducts visits by heads of state and celebrities. He looked after Oprah Winfrey and managed to get permission to have O projected on the Harbour Bridge pylons with half an hour to spare.
He delivers public events like the Olympic Welcome Home Parades and the Sydney Swans parade when they took out the AFl Grand Final, as well ceremonial events like the Anzac Day Dawn Service, Remembrance Day, the re-opening of the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, and the placing of the statue of New Zealand soldier on the Anzac Bridge.
He staged what was named the World’s Best Conference in 2002 for the Spinal Cord Initiative with Christopher Reeve and he was responsible for the Celebrations of the anniversary of Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was Awarded Australia’s Best Event in 2007.
But one of his less successful ideas was allowing The Chaser onto the APEC route… his career was almost rooted!
It’s perhaps for the government facilitation role of other people’s events that he is best known. You may have seen a James Morrison look-alike walking the Mardi Gras parade route. Organisers tried to lure him into a sequinned g-string and cock feathers, but he opted for a more pedestrian number!
He has been instrumental in establishing innovative approaches to ensure the safety and success of events, such as convening the Government Coordination Centre which runs out of the Police Centre at Surry Hills for major events on Sydney roads and around the harbour like New Year’s Eve, the City2Surf and the Sydney Running Festival.
Highlights from the last 12 months alone include coordinating government agency support for the Navy’s iconic International Fleet Review; as well as the largest and most successful Vivid Sydney light walk ever.
The June, 2014 Rotary International Convention was a success not only for the money it generated for Sydney, but because no one died during the event – this was unprecedented in the world of Rotary International Conventions and many attribute this to our legend’s jokes and happy demeanor.
His support of people with disabilities is well known. He worked on the Government’s Event Access and Inclusion Project to increase the participation of people with disability in major public and community events supported by the NSW Government.
He is busy currently planning the AFC Asian Cup 2015 and ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
This man deserves every accolade he receives.
He has been honoured with the Order of the Golden Rings from the International Olympic Committee and the Centenary Medal and the Order of Australia for his work in the community and the events industry.
He works in a volunteer capacity on a number of events including World Aids Day and was chair of the highly successful 2013 Special Olympics in Newcastle last year. He is a mentor for a Special Olympic athlete, Mel Eustace, a volunteer fundraiser and an assistant sports coach for Special Olympics Australia.
He is regarded with the greatest affection and highest esteem by the many hundreds who have worked with him over the years.
It is in recognition of his immeasurable contribution in creating an entirely different events environment from the one he inherited, one which has helped mark Sydney as a global events destination, and in being a passionate supporter of events and event organisers, that we give him this Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am of course talking about the legend, John Trevillian