Laurie ‘in dog house’, for right reasons

By David Brasch

LAURIE Arnott has a theory that says “always in life, you have got to be positive”.

The Grafton Club is perfect proof of Laurie\’s theory because since 2000, when he joined the club committee, Laurie has been a driving force in establishing Grafton as a successful and thriving greyhound racing centre.

Laurie, 92, has only just retired from the club committee but his lasting legacy has been honoured with the naming after him of the brand new kennel block at the track.

\”I don\’t know why they named it after me,\” said Laurie. \”I suppose it is because I was always in the dog house with my late wife Barbara,\” he joked.

Laurie spent all his working life as an engineer in Sydney but was a production and factory manager for a number of major companies.

He dabbled in greyhound ownership and in 1990 won the famed July Maiden at Grafton with Miss Derra who was trained by his good mate Terry Ransom.

\”We were at Grafton when she won the final and I had a good bet on her at big odds to win,\” said Laurie. \”It was our first attempt to win the big maiden at Grafton.

\”Barbara and I liked the place so much we agreed to move to Yamba when we retired, and that\’s what we did.

\”I even trained a couple of dogs when we got to Yamba but they were not much good.\”

It wasn\’t long before Laurie\’s future worth to greyhound racing and the Grafton Club was acknowledged.

\”Maureen Boylett approached me,\” said Laurie. \”She said if something wasn\’t done with the club it would not be here for much longer.

\”They talked me into standing for the committee and I was successful. They instantly made me vice-president.\”

Laurie and Des Winters turned the club around almost instantly.

\”But, Des\’ building business soon got so big he needed to cut back his work with the club,\” said Laurie.

\”We discussed who could become president. I spotted John Corrigan over behind the starting boxes and said \’he looks like he\’s been loafing and needs a challenge\’. John became president.\”

Laurie quickly stamped himself on Grafton greyhound racing.

\”I built up a very good rapport with Percy Allen at Greyhound Racing NSW and all the officials there,\” he said.

\”I could see where the industry was heading and we needed to switch from grass to loam surface. It was fortunate I was able to organise some funding from GRNSW and also federally.

\”And we were fortunate to contact a fellow who did a lot of roadwork and had access to various sites for sand.\”

Grafton\’s racing surface has forever since been acclaimed one of the very best in the country.

\”Laurie has been part of a gradual and significant upgrading of Grafton,\” says Corrigan.

\”During his time with us he has overseen projects worth in excess of $1.2 million, including the transferring the old track from grass to loam approximately $280,000, a new amenities block on track $330,000, the current track $300,000, and currently being built a new amenities block in the caravan park $330,000.

\”All this starting from scratch as when he and Des Winters took over the club was broke.\”

Laurie is nothing but modest about those achievements.

\”It\’s a dream,\” he said. \”If you think things are going to happen, you must make them happen. But, I can\’t believe we have achieved what we have.

\”The new grandstand is the next target.\”

Laurie admits the club was in \”considerable debt\” when he joined the committee. \”Fortunately it is now very financial.\”

But Laurie resigned from the committee only a few months ago. \”They wanted me to continue, but I could not keep going,\” he said. \”I\’ve enjoyed every minute of my time with the club. It\’s been a challenge.

\”But, as I said, always in life we have got to be positive.\”

The Laurie Arnott Kennel Block at the Grafton Club is testament to just that.

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