A local hero who passed away in 2011 will have his name remembered for years to come.
The South Kempsey Oval will be named the Jim Stirling Oval in honour of former Crescent Head Public School principal and the first indigenous principal in NSW, James (Jim) Stirling OAM.
Mr Stirling was born in Alice Springs to a teenage mother in 1930 and was a member of the stolen generation.
After completing teachers college in 1951 in Sydney he moved to Kempsey to undertake his first posting as a teacher at Burnt Bridge Public School. Mr Stirling spent five years at Burnt Bridge, followed by four years at East Kempsey School and 17 years at West Kempsey School before becoming the principal of Crescent Head Public School for a further 12 years.
Mr Stirling was the first Indigenous principal in NSW, according to Kempsey West Public School.
After retiring in 1988, Mr Stirling remained in the area until his passing in July 2011.
Mr Stirling made an outstanding contribution during both his teaching and retirement years to education and sport in the Macleay Valley, especially junior sport.
He coached rugby league, cricket, hockey and netball and encouraged participation in surf life saving.
In a statement, the Macleay Valley Cricket Association said, “There are literally hundreds of older adults in the valley, especially women, who will attest that they loved their sport, but took it up only because of Jim Stirling’s encouragement.”
Mr Stirling won the Shire’s Sportsman of the Year Award in 1990, and was honoured on Cricket Australia’s Alan Border Medal night in 2000 for his 50-plus years of service to cricket.
During his years, Mr Stirling fulfilled a number of roles in the community including: secretary of the North Coast PSSA, president of Macleay District Hockey Association, president of Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club, president of Crescent Head Country Club, president/secretary of the Macleay Valley Cricket Association for 20 seasons between 1954 and 1994.
An inscribed plaque with a biography will be placed beside the oval.