Graham Thouard was born in Stanthorpe in 1944 and as a young lad he was a member of the Boys Athletic Society (BATS), which was a gymnastics club in Stanthorpe from around 1958 to 1960. He moved to Ipswich in 1966 and worked at Swanbank Power Station in the operating control room.
In 1975 Graham and Gloria and their two sons moved to Rosewood. Their sons attended St Brigids and Graham became acquainted with the Sister of Mercy nun, Sister Moya Flynn. The school had some rudimentary gymnastic mats and Graham suggested to Moya that he could give gymnastic activities sessions to the school kids as part of their curriculum. At this stage, Judith Acutt, Christine Smith and Julie Dale would have been in Grade 8 in 1976 or thereabouts. As a consequence of this, Graham decided to start the Rosewood Gymnastics Club in 1977 when he was 33 years of age. He commenced from humble beginnings knowing next to nothing, to eventually having one of his young gymnasts become a member of the Queensland Gymnastics Team.
That gymnast, Jon Duncan, travelled to Perth and the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra as part of the Queensland Gymnastics Team. Julie, Christine and Judith became an integral part of the Club, eventually taking on the roles of assistant coaches. The club was very successful in the small country town, with sessions running over three days each week with a large number of coaches caring for up to 100 young gymnasts. It was a success due to the many wonderful members of the Rosewood community.
The club was held in the Memorial Hall in William Street which was later moved to near the swimming pool. Because the gymnastics club had so many sessions per week it virtually had a monopoly on the building, but Graham remembers the boxing club also utilised it at some stage.
Gloria Thouard was also a coach with the gymnastics club. The club started a program for children with mild disabilities and Gloria was instrumental in running the programme. Graham and Gloria were coaching for seven years, from 1977 to 1974, (aged 33 to 40) conducting sessions every Wednesday and Friday nights, Saturday mornings, and Sundays as required. It was no big deal, Graham enjoyed gymnastics and when he looks back at his time doing so, he wonders how he found the energy.
Some of the assistant coaches were Pat Hayes and two others from Ipswich, one other who travelled from Beerwah every Friday night to coach, Leanne Dutney, the late Kim Duncan, Jon Duncan, Gloria Thouard, Ron Purvis, and so many names of the young and old who made the club a success, and who provided community service through the club to Rosewood for at least seven years. A lot of their names escape Graham some 30 years later.
Graham accompanied Jon Duncan to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. With some of the girls, he and Gloria went to Chinchilla to run a Gymnastic training weekend and to Mitchelton for gymnastic competitions plus trips to other places. It was a great few years for them.
In 1985, Graham and Gloria sold their house and moved to Oxley in Brisbane because of their sons’ education as boarding students at Marist College in Ashgrove, and for their future career opportunities. Graham continued to work at Swanbank Power Station until 1987 when he took voluntary redundancy. He subsequently had a number of different careers and homes in Brisbane, Redcliffe and Ipswich and retired at 64 years of age.
Graham walked away from gymnastics in 1984 and never became involved in the sport again, although he did often think about assisting at the Ipswich and Rosewood gymnastic clubs. However, it never went past the thinking stage. He did try to contact the later Rosewood Club but heard nothing back from them. Graham says there is much more to remember, but it is up to others to continue the story of the Rosewood Gymnastics Club from 1977 to when it ceased to exist.
Contributed by Graham Fisk
Graham doesn’t know what happened to the Membership Book. Perhaps a list of names could be compiled by those who were there and do remember? Please use the Contact Form on this site if you can help with this.
Memories from Facebook
Four of my children enjoyed being involved in the club for several years – Hazel Wendt
I was in the club for a little while. Judith Acutt helped me. Thank you for the wonderful memories of the club. – Janet Spresser
Graham also taught my daughter gymnastics – Barbara McKenzie
My brother and I trained in gymnastics at the hall from 1980 to 1989.- Tammy Knudsen
I have great memories of doing gymnastics there every Wednesday and Friday night between 1981 and 1984. I recall at the end of some nights Graeme would play a particular song as we all packed up. The only words I can remember were “Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re the best in every way”. Thanks for putting this history together. It is wonderful to look back on the simpler times of our youth growing up in a country town.