A state funeral was held at St Paul’s Cathedral, Mebourne on 27 March for former AFL legend Jim Stynes OAM. At forty five years young, Stynes passed away in his home on 20 March surrounded by family and close friends after a two and half year battle with Melanoma cancer. Over 5,000 people attended the funeral and a live screening in Federation Square. Styne’s inspirational life had wide-reaching impacts. Not only has he been described as ‘Australia’s most successful sporting experiment’ but he also did considerable work with young people in the community through the Reach Foundation and Penguin Childcare Centres.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Jim Stynes came to Australia as part of a recruitment program of Irish footballers for the Melbourne Demons Footballs Club. His career with the club included 264 games over the 1987 - 1998 seasons. Between Round 17 1987 and Round 4 1988, he played 244 consecutive matches; an AFL record, and was the recipient of the 1991 Brownlow Medal. Stynes also equalled Melbourne Football Club’s record for winning the club’s Best and Fairest award four times, in 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1997. In 2003, Stynes was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame. He is also an official member of the Melbourne Football Club’s Team of the Century. In 2008 he became the chairman of Melbourne Football Club and held the position until he was forced to step down due to his health.
Jim co-founded the Reach Foundation, in 1994 with film director Paul Currie, to create a supportive and positive learning space for young people. Through this non-profit organsiation, Stynes worked to help 8-18 year olds feel valued and supported on their life paths and encourage their ambitiousness and self esteem. His work with the Reach foundation earned Stynes the Melbournian of the Year award in 2010, an Order of Australia and Church Fellowship in 2007 and the Victorian of the Year award in 2001 and 2003.
Jim also co-founded Pelican and Penguin Childcare in 2004 with business partner Hugh Ellis to address the need for quality care and early learning opportunities for children. They currently have 15 centres operating throughout Victoria and Queensland.
Even through his cancer battle, Jim continued to contribute to community welfare through these organsiations. He even developed a breakfast cereal product, Jimbo Super Muesli, because his health condition triggered an appreciation for the nutritionally beneficial ‘super foods’.
Stynes leaves behind wife, Sam, children Matisse and Tiernan and a legacy of both sporting brilliance and community contribution which will be honoured for years to come. His death serves as another reminder of the risks associated with skin cancer in Australia.