Receiving an OAM in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours left Michael Hornby, from Albany Creek, “surprised, humbled and not quite sure how to react”.
Over 30 years he has launched The Smith Family in Queensland, raised millions for Surf Life Savers, set-up the Wildlife Warriors at Australia Zoo and is now CEO of The Common Good at Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside
Through The Common Good’s fundraising for medical research, Mr Hornby is “meeting people who are alive because of the small, but essential, role we play”.
About Michael Hornby
Michael Hornby had a tough start in the early 1990s, arriving in Queensland with his young family to launch The Smith Family in a state where it was unknown and had no connections.
He spent two years meeting people, “telling the story” and launching the Learning for Life program which is today still helping disadvantaged children with education.
As national marketing manager for Surf Life Saving Australia (1998-2005), Mr Hornby secured the charity’s first national corporate sponsors, generating $27 million in one year.
In 2007, when returning as group general manager, he also led the national Year of the Surf Lifesaver campaign.
Between those roles, Mr Hornby was CEO of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, setting up Steve Irwin’s conservation charity and funding construction of the largest wildlife hospital in the southern hemisphere at Beerwah.
Mr Hornby also faced the world’s media in 2006 when Steve Irwin died while filming on the Barrier Reef of Port Douglas.
In almost three years (2011-2013) as executive manager of the RSPCA, Mr Hornby helped create the Queensland Animal Care Campus at Wacol.
For the last nine years he has been with the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation and set-up The Common Good to help “power life-saving medical research”.
“The payback here is something beyond what I could have imagined,” he said. “This is the most unlikely thing I’ve ever done and is by far the most important to me.
“I thought there was money going around for medical research, but didn’t realise what researchers go through. How they dedicate their lives.
“Most are paid nothing for what they do, no job security, yet are trying to save lives by tackling conditions most people will be affected by.”
The Common Good is “part of something that has changed heart transplantation in Australia”, Mr Hornby said.
“We’re doing the early detection of dementia, screening of the brain is being developed here and first treatments for silicosis (a deadly lung disease, described as the worst industrial health crisis since asbestosis). The researchers are heroes here.
“My priority was how do we provide sustainable funding so researchers do not have to worry about where they will be next year and can bring projects to a conclusion.
“Many cannot do that because their funding runs out. Spending $200,000 on a research project over two years, is money well spent because we have what we asked for.
“Spending $100,000 and being no better off, that is a waste of money.”
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