Queen of Hearts to Queen of events
AFTER successfully coercing an elderly stranger waiting at a bus stop in Las Vegas to visit the Rose City, there should be no doubt Tracy Vellacott is the perfect fit as the new Warwick Tourism and Events CEO.
The former Warwick Rodeo Queen, Miss Rodeo Australia secretary and Heart Foundation Queen of Hearts will begin her new position on January 10, replacing Bev Marston who resigned in October.
“Because I’m a local, it’s certainly a big advantage but I’ve been here before there was a Warwick Tourism and Events (WTE) so know what a difference it’s made,” Mrs Vellacott said.
“I think we live in one of the best places in the world and I’d like to improve on what (WTE) has already accomplished as it’s been a great addition to the town.”
With her current role as the Southern Downs Regional Council communications officer, Mrs Vellacott has well worn-in her events management hat, organising such events as Carols in the Park and the Australia Day concert.
“I love the excitement of seeing events come off – it’s like the carols, when it’s done and you receive that great community feedback I get a real buzz,” she said.
“I like to think my genuine love of my town reflects the events I’ll organise and comes across in my passion.”
That genuine love for her town is palpable when Mrs Vellacott enthuses about the local events in which she has played a big part during the years.
“From the time I was nine years old and entered in the Warwick Rose Girl competition I’ve always been happy to get out there and shout about where I love and be proud of where I come from,” she said.
One person already proudly standing by the new CEO is her husband Phil, another familiar face at local events.
“He calls me ‘the limelight freak’, whether it’s getting up at fashion parades or compering the Business Excellence Awards or rodeo parade,” Mrs Vellacott laughed.
“But he’s usually up there with me now, as well as my kids – you’ve got to feel sorry for my family sometimes, roping them into everything I’m involved in.”
“But I’d like to think I’ve instilled some community spirit in my family and they continue to love giving back to their town,” Mrs Vellacott said.
One of her first challenges will be the uncertainty over a regional tourism restructure, with her new job originally advertised as a “temporary role until the end of June”.
“While council continues debating the outcome of the tourism restructure, it will certainly be interesting playing a big part in that,” she said.
“Personally I see Warwick as an events destination, with the rodeo and Jumpers and Jazz, rather than a tourism destination like the Granite Belt.
“I agree with the mayor when he said we complement each other – I’m looking forward to a good partnership and bringing more people to the region.
“There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the tourism model and I would like to see that turn around to what we can do for our own community and for our visitors.”
The mum of three boys takes to her new job after 14 years in local government, which she refers to as “my life”, adding she is a “survivor of two amalgamations” and has worked for five mayors and five CEOs.
“The workload has been huge with amalgamation and can wear you down a bit – it will be good to have one focus, that being events and tourism of our region,” Mrs Vellacott said.
WTE board chairman Greg Newey had no doubt Mrs Vellacott would make a smooth transition into the role.
“She has all the qualifications, experience and local knowledge – I think she’ll do very well and I’ll be surprised if this announcement is not a popular one,” Mr Newey said.
“Council I believe is quite happy they’re keeping Tracy in sight, she’ll have close ties with council still and it’s great she will still retain her position in promoting her passion for Warwick.
“This just gives her the option to expand her abilities as a very popular and capable person and we’re delighted to have her on board.”
Mayor Ron Bellingham echoed Mr Newey’s sentiments, saying her “passion for the local community and her local knowledge” would be an asset to the WTE board.
“While we have a great opportunity to expand that role and develop the community further I think she’s a great person, extremely well-suited to the job,” Cr Bellingham said.
Mrs Vellacott’s calendar is already packed, including Australia Day, an Easter concert, Peace Festival, Warwick 150th celebrations, Business Excellence Awards and then comes preparations for Jumpers and Jazz in July.
But, with an excited grin with only a slight hint of panic, Mrs Vellacott clearly cannot wait to jump in to her new role with both feet.