ON what would have been his 74th birthday, the Don Hopkins Gateway, the new entrance to Taree's Bushland Drive Racing Complex was officially opened on Friday.
Don Hopkins OAM died last year. His involvement with Taree-Wingham Race Club spanned 36 years including 22 at treasurer and 10 as chairman. He was also a director of the Country Racing Council/Racing NSW Country while he was a deputy chairman of the board of Racing NSW, a director of the Australian Racing Board and treasurer of the Mid North Coast Racing Australia.
Special guests at the function included Racing NSW chairman John Messara, Racing NSW CEO Peter V'Landys, members of the Racing NSW board and Don's wife, Trish, sons Pete and Jon and daughter Liz Wilkes.
Taree-Wingham Race Club chairman Greg Coleman spent 20 years working with Mr Hopkins on the club's board and described him as a great administrator.
"Don would have been pleased with the fact that this project was completed on time and within budget,'' he said.
Mr Coleman said Racing NSW had no hesitation in providing the funding to build the new gateway, showing the esteem Mr Hopkins was held in the industry.
Mr Messara described Mr Hopkins as a 'stalwart of racing in the Mid North Coast,' recalling him as a 'formidable debater' who always came well prepared to argue his points.
"When it came to supporting NSW thoroughbred racing, particularly the country sector, there was no more determined person than Don. He always demonstrated a high level of resolve.
"At the same time he had the great ability to reach a compromise to obtain the best outcome for the industry.''
He added that Mr Hopkins 'never lost the human touch.'
"Even when he retired from the board of Racing NSW his experience and knowledge was not lost to the industry and he was appointed to the governance advisory committee of the Australian Racing Equine Academy,'' he said.
Jon Hopkins agreed that his father was a formidable debater.
"Mum was about the only person who could beat him in a debate,'' he said.
He said the family was 'very proud' that Don had been honoured and noted that Racing NSW did not hesitate when approached for funding.
On behalf of the family Jon thanked both Racing NSW and the Taree-Wingham Race Club.
"This is a fantastic way to remember dad,'' he said.
"We're very proud of him.''