Even though Old Boy Hugh Sheardown (1968) retired in 2004, he has spent much of his time since in various roles with Coeliac Queensland and Coeliac Australia, including stints as president of both organisations. Sixteen years ago, Hugh himself was diagnosed as a coeliac. Now he says he simply wants to help others with the condition and raise diagnosis rates via awareness to prevent others suffering the debilitating effects and potential life threatening consequences. One in seventy Australians have Coeliac Disease however only 25% are diagnosed.
Coeliac disease is a condition that affects the small bowel by damaging the lining thereby preventing absorption of food nutrients. With no medical cure or medication, Coeliacs must follow a strict gluten free diet for life avoiding all wheat, barley, oats and rye. Consequently, one of the biggest issues for sufferers is dining out. Since 2014, Hugh has been heading up a project to introduce proper training and gluten free food service within the food service industry nationally. It is an interactive online training program, similar to the Responsible Service of Alcohol training, for people in the food service industry. It covers the whole spectrum, from front of house, back of house and cross contamination. The program is to be introduced as an elective for TAFE students across Australia. The level of Hugh’s dedication to improving the quality of life for people suffering coeliac disease, has best been demonstrated when as part of a clinical trial he allowed researchers to plant hookworms in his body for six years.
In the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, Hugh was recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia which was accompanied with the citation: For significant service to community health, particularly to people with coeliac disorders, through executive roles at the state and national level.