St Marys Leagues Club President Warren Smith has shelved plans to wrap up his involvement with the Variety NSW Bash – refusing to rule out going on another adventure next year.
The final day of this year’s Variety NSW Bash kicked off at St Marys Leagues Club last Saturday in what should have been the swan song for legendary Bash veteran Smith. But, it seems he’s still got a little more giving to do.
According to Smith, it was around 20 years ago when he first got involved with Variety, after they held a fundraising event at the Club.
“They got me up on the stage and offered to sell me a car for $1, so we bought that, it cost us $7000 to get it road-worthy, and then we started to go on the Bashes and raise money for the charity,” he said.
Since then, Smith has been on over 15 Bashes himself, with this year’s car, his fourth.
“The others are all broken down and had it. They’ve always got photos of our junior league players on the bonnet, boot and sides, promoting rugby league,” he said.
“This is the third year this one’s been on, and it went very good actually. The mechanics that worked on it before the Bash got everything going properly, which is fairly unusual for us. We usually have a lot of breakdowns!”
For Smith, the most important part is the giving he’s able to do with Variety, attending breakfasts and lunches for schools along the way, and providing them with sporting equipment.
“We always ring them up prior to the Bash and see what they’re needing, and take extra sporting gear along to each school,” he said.
“If there’s only 9, 10, 11, 17 kids in a school, I’ll ring up the teacher and ask the kids what sort of football or soccer ball or basketball they’d like, and we’ll take one for each individual kid. They really appreciate that.”
Aside from it potentially being his last, this year’s Bash was a little bit more special for Smith and the team from St Marys Leagues Club.
“The last night’s presentation was held at our Leagues Club, where they had 340 attend,” he said.
“There’s 101 cars this year that went on the Bash, and we were given the highest award of Spirit of the Bash. It was a very big shock actually, but they said that all the other work that we do before and during the Bash was outstanding.”
It was here that Smith finished, before his car led the parade to Newcastle on the last day.
Although he was sure this year would be his final, Smith said he’s had his fair share of encouragement to go again.
“Even the paramedics blokes were saying, ‘You’ve got to go again next year – we’ll look after you!’,” he said.
“A lot of people on the Friday night were telling me I’ve got to go again, so I’ll see how I hold up coming up to next May.”
But, no matter what, he couldn’t be happier with his efforts.
“It’s a pleasure to see where the money goes. There have been quite a few people in our area that Variety has helped and donated things to for the young kids,” he said.
“It’s been great, really.”
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.