Brothers’ rare double act

Netball NSW would like to congratulate 2016 Anne Clark BEM Service Award recipient Les Smith on being award the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Incredibly, Les becomes the third person in his family to receive the honour – following in the footsteps of younger brother Kevin (2009) and mother Molly (1979), renown and respected individuals in the Lake Macquarie netball community.

Below is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Newcastle Weekly (10 January 2018).


Marks Point brothers Les and Kevin Smith are inseparable.

They live next door to one another, team up to train umpires with Charlestown Netball Association, and, as it turns out, earn national honours together.

At 73, Les has followed in his younger brother’s footsteps and earned a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his contribution to netball and broader community service. Kevin, 71, received his medal in early 2016.

Both had their medals bestowed by New South Wales Governor David Hurley.

Even Mr Hurley reportedly commented on how rare it was for two brothers to receive an OAM.

“We’re the only ones we’re aware of, apart from the Waugh brothers, Mark and Steve,” Keven told Newcastle Weekly.

Les said it was a “thrill” to make it an OAM double for the Smith family.

“It was a great experience; something you’d never ever forget,” he said.

At each investiture ceremony, award recipients usually have a small portion of their curriculum vitae read aloud as they cross the stage.

Of course, if Les and Kevin’s CVs were read in their entirety, the audience would have been there all night. The pair are well known among the Lake Macquarie netball community.

As the sons of the late Molly Smith, whom the netball courts at Belmont are named after, they’ve earned quite a reputation, and have devoted much of their lives to the sport, as did their mother.

In late 2016, Les became the third person in the family to be awarded with the Anne Clark BEM Service Award – the highest honour bestowed by Netball NSW – in recognition of more than 54 consecutive years of service to netball.

Kevin received the award in 2009, and Molly earned it in 1979 – the same year the boys fought and won a discrimination case to become the first badged male umpires in Australia.

Les and Kevin gained their A-grade badges in 1981 and 1982 respectively (Kevin was the first male in Australia to do so).

Over the years they have coached many a team and umpire fledgling, imparting decades of knowledge.

First published in the Newcastle Weekly

Header image: Les Smith accepting his Anne Clark BEM Service Award from Netball NSW President Wendy Archer AM at the 2016 State Dinner.