The Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Foundation, now known as Spinnaker Health Research Foundation established the prestigious Warren Jones Awards in honour of a great man’s personal commitment to the health and wellbeing of our community.
The Awards comprise a PhD Scholarship, a Fellowship and an Oration. Their purpose is to support excellence in medical research, nurture the careers of doctors and scientists, and to attract exceptional staff and students to Fremantle Hospital. They have an enormous potential to influence the health and wellbeing of the entire community for generations to come.
Warren Leslie Jones AM FCPA, AAMI, FIDA was born on 24 September 1936 and passed away on 17 May 2002. He was a man whose contribution to Fremantle, to Western Australia and to Australia was enormous. A man whose life was so rich and so rewarding yet ultimately so short. A dyed-in-the-wool Fremantle lad, Warren was variously described by his numerous friends and colleagues as affable, optimistic, humorous, determined, single-minded, courageous, strong-willed, loyal, tenacious, a born leader, a devoted team player, fair and honest.
Warren attended Bicton State School and then Fremantle Boys High, leaving at age 15 to help in his parents’ grocery store before studying accountancy. His first job was as a salesman with Claude Neon before he moved into the hire business in a position with Crommelins. Warren soon launched his own business and opened Mayday Hire with a partner in 1968. In 1971 Bond Corporation Holdings Limited purchased the business and he subsequently became a Director of certain Bond Corporation subsidiaries, having responsibility for the administration of the Group’s industrial activities.
From 1973 to 1987 Warren was a Director of Bond Corporation Holdings. In February 1987 he was appointed a Director of Bond Media Limited and then became its Chairman when the company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in July of that year. He held this position until 1990 when he decided to concentrate on his own business interests through Limestone Resources. He acquired two limestone quarries and expanded their activity, supplying the Perth market with cut limestone blocks for building construction.
Foremost in people’s minds however is the role Warren Jones played as the driving force behind Australia II’s historic win in the 1983 America’s Cup – and this best exemplifies his tenacity, drive and determination.
Warren was a keen recreational sailor but didn’t see his first 12m race until Alan Bond invited him to watch his yacht Southern Cross compete in the 1974 America’s Cup. In 1976, recognising his outstanding business management and people handling skills, Bond asked Warren to manage his new Cup syndicate with a yacht named “Australia”. Warren assembled an outstanding ‘commando unit’ of just 22 people, and while Australia did well in the race, it was no match for Ted Turner’s Courageous. Undeterred, Warren already had plans to campaign “Australia” in 1980, revamped with a new ‘bendy’ mast. While victory once again proved elusive, they did win an America’s Cup race losing 4-1 to Dennis Conner’s “Freedom”. It served to convince the syndicate they had a good chance of taking home the “Auld Mug” and they immediately challenged again for the 1983 series.
Bond’s 1983 syndicate featured the brilliant sailmaker Tom Schackenberg, winged-keel designer Ben Lexcen, the helming and leadership of John Bertrand and the outstanding management of Warren Jones. While the team got Australia II together and put it through its paces, Warren went head to head with the New York Yacht Club over their efforts to scuttle the design, and ingeniously shifted the weight of public and media opinion behind the Aussie contenders.
The rest, as they say, is history. Following an exhilarating race that gripped the nation, Australia II won 4-3 against the American yacht Liberty skippered by Dennis Conner. After 132 years, the Cup was finally wrested from the Americans, ending the longest winning streak in sporting history.
Warren dreamed of taking the successful Australia II team to Cowes in 2001 for the 150th anniversary of America winning what was to become known as the America’s Cup. Demonstrating his overwhelming determination to overcome incredible obstacles, which in this case included the need to raise $1 million in sponsorship and obtain the release of the yacht, the crew made it to Cowes. Australia II had a very successful outing and was awarded the trophy for the Yacht Contributing Most to the Regatta, while the people of Australia relived the pride they had felt in 1983.
However there was even more to Warren Jones than his outstanding achievements in business and his contribution to international sailing; he always had time for people and for causes, and was a deeply committed humanitarian. Warren’s community contributions are too numerable to list, but included his roles as Director and Deputy Chairman of the Perth Wildcats, a longstanding Member of the East Fremantle Football Club, Patron of Business Leaders 2000, and his major contributions to Project Employ Youth, OzConcert and the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation.
During his time as honorary Chairman of the Board of Fremantle Hospital and Health Service, Warren oversaw an incredible period of growth in the development of new facilities. With his vibrant energy and formidable skills, he oversaw the building of a new psychiatric unit and a modern children’s ward, in addition to a multitude of other less visible but equally important changes. A hands-on leader, Warren could often be seen walking the hospital corridors and wards, and knew by name or sight many of the hospital’s volunteers and staff.
Warren is also credited as the motivating force behind the establishment of the Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Foundation. He believed Fremantle Hospital deserved a medical research facility that would be the equal of any other teaching hospital in Australia, to be of direct benefit to the Fremantle community by improving quality of life and saving lives. Through his exceptional vision and leadership the Foundation was created, and with his guidance, enthusiasm and commitment it has flourished. Warren served as a Trustee from the Foundation’s inception in 1996 through to his untimely death in 2002. The Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Foundation will forever stand as Warren Jones’ legacy to the community of Fremantle and to the people of Western Australia.
Warren’s contributions to the Foundation included significant personal donations including a block of land on which the Foundation’s 2000 Charity Home was built, and of even more value, his investment of time and boundless enthusiasm.
While just off Dongara, returning from his annual fishing trip to the Abrolhos Islands on his beloved Black Swan – the tender to Australia II – he suffered a devastating stroke from which he never recovered. Warren passed away several weeks later and the tributes which flowed from every corner of the globe bore testament to the many lives he had touched.
His touching farewell was conducted at the new and at the time unopened Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle, which now houses his beloved Australia II. Warren Jones’ casket was escorted to the museum by an honour guard of ex-Australia II sailors aboard the Black Swan, and in keeping with his final wish, taken for interment in the back of an old Holden ute covered by a tarpaulin.
Difficult as it is to picture the City of Fremantle if it had never experienced the America’s Cup, it is impossible to imagine Fremantle and indeed Western Australia, without Warren Jones.
Henry Ford once said “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal”, and no person exemplified this philosophy more than Warren Jones. He worked tirelessly to turn dreams and visions into realities, and the creation and growth of the Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Foundation stands as testament to this. He was one of the most naturally gifted leaders.