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Doyalson Wyee RSL Club’s Darren Thornton. Doyalson Wyee RSL Club’s Darren Thornton. Featured
18 February 2024 Posted by 


He went from greens to grand dreams
WHEN Darren Thornton was doing work experience as a greenkeeper at Doyalson Wyee RSL Club he could never have imagined he would one day be running the place.
Fast forward 40 years and Darren is now the CEO and couldn’t be prouder of what he – and the club – have achieved in that time.
“I moved to the Central Coast from Penrith when I was 13 and lived in Gorokan,” Darren said.
“I played cricket for Doyalson Cricket Club and loved mowing lawns. I did work experience greenkeeping at the club and was offered an apprenticeship when I finished school that year.”
He completed the four-year apprenticeship in 1987 and moved into the role of assistant greenkeeper.
But the possibility of a better work/life balance beckoned and Darren moved into a full-time role behind the bar.
“As a greenkeeper I was required to work five and a half days a week, which included every Saturday and the occasional Sunday, whereas a permanent bar tender was only five days a week with an RDO once a month. Plus, it paid an extra $100 a week.”
In May 1989 Darren was appointed the club’s head cellarman and in 1991 he moved into a role as the purchasing officer and supervisor before being promoted to gaming manager in 1993.
This led to his role as assistant CEO in 1996 and, finally, CEO in May 2007.
So, was being the boss always the plan? 
“I never had any plans of becoming a CEO, I was content with just working in the bar,” Darren said.
“But then opportunities arose throughout the years, and I started to progress up the ladder. Looking back, I am very fortunate to have had these opportunities.
It’s been a great journey
“It doesn't seem like 40 years, it's been really good,” Darren said of his impressive milestone. 
“It has certainly had its ups and downs, but it's been a great journey seeing the club go from strength to strength.”  
The committed club man said he had seen a lot of change in his 40 years of service, most of it positive.
“The professionalism of the board and the whole club has come a long way,” Darren said. 
“It's changed from back in the old days where anything would go. Now we are run like a real business.” 
Darren said his proudest moment was getting the club rezoned and enabling development on the land next door, which was 20 years in the making.  
He also says that the team behind him is what has made his career so strong.
“I couldn’t have been here this long without great people around me,” he said. “The board that I have now has remained the same for 10 years and they are brilliant.” 
The 56-year-old is a proud local who lives at Norah Head with his soon-to-be-wife. He has two sons, aged 27 and 25.
“Being involved with our community is the most humbling and rewarding part of my role,” Darren says.
“To be able to contribute positively is very gratifying and I enjoy providing levels of support, volunteering my time, and mentoring a number of groups. 
“I am passionate about developing genuine community organisations with innovative and effective solutions to their needs.
We are working hard to develop facilities and spaces that are safe, accessible and inclusive to better effect their programs.”
Darren said he admired the way his community had demonstrated adaptability, resilience, togetherness and supportiveness during some very challenging economic and social times.
And what of the future?
“We are currently waiting for our DA to be approved for our major development of land adjacent to the club which will secure the future of Doyalson Wyee RSL Club,” he said.
“Once the first stage is open, I will then look forward to retiring.”


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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