Former Sunraysia resident, Brad Mason, had the chance to meet Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband Prince Phillip this week.
FORMER Red Cliffs resident, and current Australian volleyball representative and Australian Institute of Sport athlete, Brad Mason, still can‚Äôt believe his luck.
An 18-year-old with a huge future in his chosen sport, Brad experienced one of the biggest moments of his life earlier this week ‚Äď and it didn‚Äôt take place on the volleyball court.
Selected as part of a small group to make the trip to Government House in Melbourne, Brad lived out a once in a lifetime experience ‚Äď the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, during their Australian tour.
An honour that came about at the last minute for the youngster, Brad ‚Äď who took time out between plane flights back to Canberra to talk to the Mildura Weekly ‚Äď said it was an experience he will never forget.
‚ÄúI‚Äôll probably never get to do that again,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúDefinitely a once in a lifetime experience, and something that‚Äôs going to stick with me.‚ÄĚ
Unfortunately Brad missed out on talking personally to, or shaking hands with, the Queen, after Her Majesty‚Äôs flight was delayed. It was a delay that reduced the monarch‚Äôs visit to Government House to just 10 minutes, with Brad saying it had been disappointing not to get a chance to speak to Her Majesty.
‚ÄúI think the closest she got to me was about five metres,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt was a bit disappointing but it‚Äôs just the way it goes.
‚ÄúBecause the trip was cut short, the Queen went one way around the room and Prince Phillip went the other way.
‚ÄúPrince Phillip was standing next to me for a short period, which was pretty cool.‚ÄĚ
Brad said that while he had enjoyed the experience, he admitted to feeling out of place in a room filled with some of Australia‚Äôs most newsworthy names, including politicians and other athletes of note.
This list included former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett, and Melbourne Mayor, Robert Doyle.
‚ÄúI felt pretty silly standing there in my $100 suit next to guys wearing clothes worth thousands of dollars!‚ÄĚ Brad said. ‚ÄúAlthough it was good to see a few of those guys were just as nervous as I was.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt was certainly a high honour to be in that room with all of those people, and it‚Äôs something that I‚Äôll always remember.‚ÄĚ
The honour itself came about by pure chance, with Brad selected to meet the Queen after being nominated through the Victorian Regional Academies of Sport by Sunraysia Academy of Sport co-ordinator, Vicki Telfer.
Vicki said it had come as a huge shock to learn that Brad was the lucky person to get the nod.
‚ÄúTo be honest it was one of those things that I didn‚Äôt expect anything to come out of,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI nearly fell out of my chair when I found out. It‚Äôs huge for Brad, and huge for our Academy.‚ÄĚ
Vicki said that all 10 of Victoria‚Äôs Sports Academies had been asked by the State Government‚Äôs sport and recreation department to nominate an athlete ‚Äď past or present ‚Äď for the honour, with that person needing to represent the core values of the Academy system.
‚ÄúBrad is our highest achieving athlete, so it was always going to be him,‚ÄĚ she said.
‚ÄúHe is the Sunraysia Academy of Sport‚Äôs first Australian representative, and is someone that I think a lot of the athletes model themselves on.
‚ÄúHe is living the AIS lifestyle, and his dream, and he is certainly deserving of this once in a lifetime opportunity.‚ÄĚ
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip will head home tomorrow, following a final visit to Perth today.
Story By VINNIE RODI
Appeared in the Mildura Weekly, Friday 28th, October 2011.