Passionate coursing volunteer Heather Villinger is GRV’s Ken Carr Medal recipient for 2021-22.
A vociferous coursing advocate, Heather’s special and outstanding contribution to greyhound racing in Victoria harks back to the late 1980s.
Heather commenced her illustrious coursing career as a volunteer at Lang Lang after being introduced to the sport while working with Margaret Mills.
A life member of the National Coursing Association of Victoria, Heather has been heavily involved in administration for the NCAV since 2006.
And it’s fair to say that coursing runs through the veins of the 2017 Noel Banks Medal winner – coursing’s ‘Brownlow Medal’ equivalent.
At the time of receiving the prestigious honour, it was highlighted that Heather was instrumental in saving a great sport, meeting with government leaders, when coursing appeared doomed. She provided evidence of why coursing should stay.
Heather has a passion for greyhound racing but coursing is by far her favourite aspect of the sport.
During her time on the NCAV Executive, she more often than not put her own greyhounds on the backburner to make sure everyone else in the ‘coursing family’ was okay and looked after.
The ideas notebook was a permanent fixture on her side of the bed just in case she had another brilliant idea at 2am!
Heather helped move the NCA into the computer age and her bookkeeping skills are second to none, always ensuring that the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed.
One of her favourite sayings is “make it transparent, then nobody can question what you’ve done”.
When it comes to coursing, Heather is prepared to fill any position and makes sure nothing remains vacant. Quite simply, coursing is in her blood.
When the Victoria Coursing Club looked like folding, she took over the reins to ensure Victoria’s oldest coursing club survived.
In 2013, Heather also co-authored a paper that saved coursing from being shut down.
She has been on the NCAV Executive since 2006 and has officiated as a club delegate for Lang Lang, Longwood and the VCC. And she’s the incumbent NCAV treasurer and VCC secretary/treasurer.
Heather has also held NCAV positions of grader, secretary and vice-president, and is currently its official historian.
And she has acted as CEO and secretary/manager of Cranbourne GRC at different periods.
Heather has also assisted with the compilation of the Australian and New Zealand Greyhound Stud Book.
She has also devoted years of her time on GRV’s Industry Consultative Group as the coursing representative. Heather brought coursing intel to the ICG after being welcomed as a new face in April 2016. (The ICG discuss major issues facing the industry, out of which suggestions are forwarded to GRV’s Board for consideration.)
In 2020, Heather stepped into the breach and took on the role of NCAV grader. Heather took on the difficult duties, ensuring a coursing season proceeded, while at the same time coaching new GRV personnel in coursing procedures.
Heather is currently a key member of a working group planning celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Victorian greyhound racing where she is championing the cause for coursing.
Already, she has made her intentions heard loud and clear that the coursing fraternity are not left behind and should indeed be at the forefront of the celebrations. Reminding all and sundry that the NCAV is run by hardy volunteers.