Pete Shefford

Enduring Spirit Award

The Award: The aim of the "Pete Shefford Enduring Spirit Award" (hereafter referred to as ‘the Award’) is to recognize the esteemed military values within a critically or terminally ill veteran, and provide an opportunity for them to tick something off their bucket list, through moral support, friendship, and some additional financial support should it be required.

Each year Eyes Front will call for nominations for the Award. The Award will be bestowed to a veteran, who is critically or terminally ill, in recognition of their displaying and living according to the same enduring positive spirit & dedication to community; and through their actions, showcasing the values of our military forbears and veterans, just like Pete Shefford. The successful applicant will be provided with an honorarium of up to $5,000 to assist them to achieve their desired activity. They will be provided with a mentor to assist them with their difficult mental challenges, for as long as they need them, and a team of people to help them plan their bucket list event should it be needed. 

They will also be appointed as an Honorary Wellness Leader & “Ambassador of Change” and invited to share the highlights and challenges of their journey, to inspire others to also live loud. In the words of Pete Shefford: “It’s your life. Live it!”.

Background: Pete was born in Albury, NSW, in August 1969. His parents still reside in the region, and his older sister, Kellie, lives in Sydney with her family. Pete always had a passion for football, and went onto dedicate much of his life in the pursuit of playing his beloved Touch Football & Rugby League; and later as an administrator across varying levels. He joined the Army from High School in 1988 and was posted to 5th Aviation Regiment Workshops as an Avionics Technician on S-70A Blackhawk and UH-1H Iroquois helicopters; before discharging from the Army a decade later and undertaking university studies towards a new vocation.

 

Pete holds a Certificate II in Security, Certificate IV in Training & Assessment, Associate Diploma in Engineering (Electronics), Bachelor of Business majoring in HR & Sports Management; and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary); alongside a host of other accreditation's such as First Aid & CPR, Responsible Service of Alcohol, Food Handling, Sports Strapping, Play by the Rules & WADA modules, Student Protection, Sports Governance & Administration, and Workplace Health & Safety to name but a few. He is a registered Member Protection Information Officer in Qld; and is currently enrolled in the University of Cape Town (South Africa) course on "Becoming a Changemaker: An Introduction to Social Innovation". 

Values: Some people live larger than life; but that’s not Pete Shefford. A volunteer across various grassroots sports for the last 3 decades, Pete quietly goes about his business ensuring the hard work isn’t shunned, and that things happen behind the scenes so others may enjoy the benefits on the surface. An international coach, grassroots referee, representative player, National selector, and established sports administrator - there’s not too much Pete isn’t involved with in his beloved sports of Rugby League & Touch Football - often putting his hand up when others will not. It coincides with his life motto of “Don’t give me excuses, give me results”.

Pete’s efforts have seen him coach three different countries at an international level, the most recent being a stint with Samoa at the Federation of International Touch World Cup in Malaysia; and the ensuing Pacific Games event in July of 2019. He has been awarded the VicSport Volunteer and Coach of the Year awards, and an Australia Day award for administration in sport. He has twice been a finalist in the prestigious Eunice Gill Leadership in Sport awards, and was this year awarded a distinguished Service to NQ Sport Award.

Sadly, within weeks of his 50th birthday, Pete was diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer. The medical prognosis isn’t good long term; and he was immediately admitted to hospital for bowel surgery, before commencing chemotherapy. Pete isn’t about to let his condition stop his commitments though, seeking day release during his initial surgical procedure to attend the NQ Junior Touch Championships with his beloved 'Sharks', the local club he is President of; and just over a week later, within hours of having a portacath connected to his heart, he was down at the fields coaching one of the clubs junior teams. It was a quintessential Pete Shefford moment: embracing a ‘never say never’ attitude, and once again highlighting his enduring positive spirit to just get on with life.

Ironically, Pete has always lived his life with a “we’re here for a good time, not a long time” outlook. An ethos that led him to twice backpack around the globe in his younger years, and with an aim to continue traveling with his family & friends as future opportunities arise within his health constraints. Pete has always juggled his love of travel with his family commitments and his unwavering passion for his sport; and is still playing Rugby League and Touch at the half-century mark of his life, as well as continuing his volunteer work at various levels!

Pete's "Journey": Loyal. Dedicated. Passionate. Selfless. Courageous. Inspiring. All words used to describe Pete Shefford by his peers; and arguably reflective of those values instilled in him during his time in the Australian Army. Upon diagnosis, Pete immediately saw an opportunity to use his current situation to inspire others, and he has gathered a number of his mates (both serving & veteran) to undertake the historical Route 66 trek across America, from Chicago to Santa Monica, in early 2020 - a bucket-list item years in the waiting. This iconic road trip symbolises the adage that “life is a journey, not a destination”: the open road, vast distance, and  twists and turns of the adventure, coincides with Pete’s outlook on life in general. He plans to intersperse his trip with messages of hope & inspiration for all that may follow a similar (medical) pathway in the future. Not content to just tick off his own wish list, Pete has collaborated with Eyes Front to establish the ‘Pete Shefford Enduring Spirit Award/Fund’, to enable future ADF veterans with a terminal illness to tick off one of their own bucket list items and to continue the journey of inspiring others.