Courageous cancer warrior wins award following battle

KEITH Ireland's courageous fight to eliminate cancer earned him a prestigious honour during yesterday's Australia Day Awards ceremony in Rockhampton.

A special Australia Day awards ceremony was held within the Jim Webber Reception Room at City Hall where Central Queenslanders were presented with specific honours.

Meanwhile, an active member of the Rockhampton North Rotary Club since 1979, Mr Ireland was recognised as Citizen of the Year thanks to his tireless efforts to raise $225,000 for cancer research.

"I am lost for words, It's great because I'm doing something I really like to do," he said. "I want to thank members of the rotary club and everyone who's bought the calendars...it's been fantastic."

After spending his working life as a schoolteacher and a principal, Mr Ireland battled prostate cancer during 2007 and thyroid cancer in 2013.

But his resilience overshadowed the disease.

During the treatment phase, Mr Ireland joined forces with the head of Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital's cancer research and radiation unit, Dr Michael Fay, who taught him the challenges involved with funding for the cause.

Regardless, Mr Ireland decided to give back and do something that would help fight against the disease.

In addition, his two passions which he works on a daily basis are two projects of the Rotary Club - his annual Bird Calendar and the Secondary School Quiz.

As an award-winning nature photographer, Mr Ireland developed the idea to produce a calendar of native Australian birds with all of the proceeds to go towards cancer research.

He's been given support from fellow Rotarian, Eric Anderson and other members.

Since his first effort in 2010, he has produced yearly calendars since.

The annual production has proven to be so popular, all of the calendars have raised $225,000.

In 2017, his branch was the only Australian club to receive the Rotary International's most prestigious nod, the Significant Achievement Award.

Not only that.

That same year during the State Printing Awards, it received several awards including the Best Calendar Produced in Queensland.

More recognition followed when the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital awarded the Rotary Club with the Diamond Level of donors which saw them listed on the Roll of Honour in the hospital's foyer.

Finally, Mr Ireland continues to seek funding for cancer research through the publication of his calendars to ensure all proceeds raised help find a cure.