A section of Lewis Street that runs along the northern boundary of the Cobar Rugby Club and leads to the entrance of the club grounds has been officially renamed as Howie’s Drive as a legacy to Daniel ‘Howie’ Howard.
A public function was held at Cobar Rugby Club’s Ailsa Fitzsimmons Memorial Oval on Sunday to celebrate the official renaming of the road.
The Cobar Rugby Club earlier this year petitioned Cobar Shire Council to rename the section of road in honour of one of their club members, Mr Howard, who was also a retained firefighter with Fire & Rescue NSW.
Mr Howard was killed a year ago on August 17 when a brick wall fell on him and another firefighter while they were attempting to bring a fire under control at the New Occidental Hotel.
Mr Howard was given a Fire & Rescue NSW full honours funeral which was held at the Cobar Rugby Club grounds and was estimated to have been attended by more than 2,000 mourners.
In addition to a big group of family and friends, Mr Howard’s funeral was attended by a large contingent of Fire & Rescue NSW personnel along with many representatives from all of the various emergency services.
At his funeral “Howie” was described as “a man who was loved and respected by all who knew him”, with Fire & Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins repeatedly using the word “hero” to describe Mr Howard in his eulogy.
“Daniel Howard was a very special person,” Commissioner Mullins said.
And that’s exactly why the club requested that their entrance road be renamed in Howie’s honour.
Cobar Rugby Club life member Peter Payne was given the honour of speaking at the dedication ceremony on Sunday.
He said the ‘Howie’s Drive’ official naming ceremony had given people an opportunity to think about Howie’s legacy and the impact he made on the Cobar Rugby Club.
“The memories and the visual things—let’s start with the naming of the Howie’s Drive.
“I suggest if the road was to be dedicated to a local politician, or another aspiring to greatness there would be debate both on an administrative level and amongst the towns people.
“Not with this, the concept has been mooted and embraced by the community,” Mr Payne said.
“I have never seen the oval, clubhouse and surrounds look as good. Yes, there have been big steps taken to resurrect this place since Howie died, but the project was well under way before he passed.
“In short, Howie had been breathing life into the place for many years and of course that life continues.
“I look around and everything about this club at this moment echoes Howie.”
Mr Payne said the rugby team had embraced Howie’s pride and determination this season and is bonding in a way Howie would have been proud of.
“Howie’s legacy is a living legacy, it breathes, it is out on the paddock every week. I have seen it, it is what a rugby club must have, a football side that is passionate, determined with the capacity to play week in week out above their weight and ability.
“That spirit is now developing from within and is now firmly entrenched,” he said.
Following the official opening ceremony on Sunday, friends and family members got together for a memorial golf day on Monday, to pay tribute to Howie on the first anniversary of his death.