R.H.D. Classic Supplies & Services – a motorcycle services, parts and accessories business based in Townsville – has won the top prize in the Small Employer of the Year category for the North Queensland region at the Queensland Training Awards (QTA). The award was presented to R.H.D. owner Sharine Milne by Yvette D’Ath, Queensland’s Minister for Training and Skills, at a special event held at the Mercure resort in Townsville on July 14.

It could be argued that the accolade has been a long time coming –  this year is the fifth in succession that R.H.D has been a finalist in the category. Not surprisingly, Sharine was delighted when her business was announced as the winner.

“After five years of being a finalist, I definitely had a cheesy grin on my face when the award was announced,” she said with a laugh. “But you probably can’t print exactly what I said when our name was called out!”

The Small Employer of the Year accolade is well-deserved recognition for the R.H.D team. Since Sharine took over the business five years ago, she has put a tremendous focus on training and working with the community. That focus includes offering training to school-based apprentices and pre-vocational students; work experience to those looking to get into the industry; fundraising for, and sponsorship of, local groups; and assistance to sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and injured or ill ex-military service personnel.

After being a finalist for the preceding four years, Sharine isn’t sure exactly why this year they would be successful.

“To be honest, I don’t really know. Maybe I just answered their questions better this year!” she said. “As the business grows, that does give us the opportunity to do a bit more each year. However, whatever that extra thing is, we will always offer the other programs we have established over the years.”

As a former finalist in TAFE’s Pre-Vocational Student of the Year competition, as well as being the national Ulysses Motorcycle Apprentice of the Year winner in 2004, Sharine’s attention on training and the community comes as no surprise – it was the reason that R.H.D was recognised with the 2016 MTA Queensland Community Award

While there is great pride in winning that and the regional award, there is now the little matter of the QTA state-wide award – an award for which R.H.D. automatically became a finalist following their regional victory – the winner of which will be announced at a gala dinner at the Brisbane Convention and Entertainment Centre in September.

“We are very proud to be the recipient of the QTA regional award and we have it sitting right next to our MTA Queensland Community Award in a prime position in our workshop,” said Sharine.  “As for the QTA state-wide award, I wouldn’t say I was ‘confident’ about winning exactly. I know what our little shop does but anybody who is a regional finalist or state finalist is a winner.

“I certainly already feel like a winner – though I would, of course, love to win the state award too! That would be fantastic. However, win or lose, that won’t change the fact that training and upgrading our own skills is what we are all about.”