V A L E – Leon Burwell OAM

Written by Geoff Tripp
14 March, 2016

The Loss of a LeaderLeon Burwell-PP

Leon was not only “Mr Special Olympics” but also the motivator, supporter, coach, mentor and the font of all knowledge when it came to dealing with athletes with special needs.

Leon was instrumental in the success and continuation of Basketball Australia’s national competition for players with an intellectual disability, now know as the Ivor Burge Championships, in NSW. There are many of us that owe Leon such a huge debt as he welcomed us into the family and helped us establish ourselves, which enabled us to continue his legacy.

Leon was the inaugural NSW Men’s team coach, a job he held for many years, he continued as the NSW Country Men’s Team coach when the programme expanded to such an extent that it allowed Basketball NSW to enter two teams into the national competition.

Leon’s enthusiasm was contagious and you couldn’t help being drawn into being a supporter, he had that effect.

Leon is well known and respected across the Newcastle/Hunter Valley area having established the thriving Special Olympics Hunter Valley club. But his influence extends right across the globe. Leon has led teams to international competition and played significant roles at club, state, national and international level.

Special Olympics Australia recognised Leon in 2002 when he was inducted into our Hall of Fame and in 2006 he was awarded an OAM and an honorary degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Newcastle. His full list of awards and accolades is enormous.

His sad passing will affect all those that merely brushed past but for those that got bitten are thanking their lucky stars that they had the opportunity of being touched by such a giving person. On behalf of all of us at BNSW can we extend our sincere condolences to his wife and family and all his many friends, he will be sadly missed.

It is understood that Leon’s family have requested privacy at this very sad time and we will respect that.

Leon Burwell