James Clyburn and Robert Lees were inducted as Life Members of AHA NSW on Monday at a luncheon held in their honour.

The two publicans, who have each worked within the industry for decades, were inducted into the elite group of New South Wales publicans at Bea restaurant in Barangaroo.

James Clyburn (pictured left)  has run the Condobolin Hotel Motel for many years, and other regional pubs throughout his career. He was introduced by Erik Ozols, former licensee of the Imperial Hotel in Bingara. Ozols called Clyburn “an exceptional friend, and a tireless worker for the AHA NSW”.

AHA NSW president Scott Leach, praised Clyburn’s commitment to his community, particularly in light of the current struggles rural publicans are facing.

“I just love Jim, because he passionately represents what we all know country publicans go through, and now is the time to be appreciating what country publicans face. Here in the city, we have people and economy. In the country right now they don’t have water, but they have a lot of fire. Jimmy, you’ve been a stalwart of the AHA. From me personally, I’m absolutely pumped to see you have life membership today.”

Robert Lees (pictured right) was also inducted as a Life Member, and was introduced by his friend and esteemed former operator John Franks. Franks outlined Lees’ industrious career in regional and Sydney pubs, which has culminated in his current leadership of the Maroubra Junction Hotel, a place on the board of Bottlemart, and as a member of the AHA NSW executive.

In his speech, Lees had two clear messages – his strong support of Leach in the role of AHA NSW president; and his love of the publican community.

“I think that the industry is blessed to have Scott Leach at the helm, and I’ll do whatever I can to convince him to hang around. Scott has managed to contain our expenses and secure the future of the industry.

“The second point I want to make is, more importantly, this industry and the AHA , is mine and my wife’s community. We have our delegate’s meetings, we catch up with people in the country, in their own hotels, and it truly is a wonderful industry. I’m very, very proud to become a life member today,” Lees stated.

Of Lees, Leach paid tribute to his friend, who he has often turned to for advice.

“I have a very close relationship with Rob that goes beyond our capacity here at the AHA. There’s nothing I have done over the past 14 years that Rob hasn’t been a part of. He’s been a fantastic mentor, someone I can talk to, and his advice has been almost perfect in every circumstance.”

In closing, Leach paid tribute to all Life Members of AHA NSW, and their role within the industry.

“Life membership is something that we value at the AHA. People are what makes us who we are and it determines the success of the industry.”

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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