HATS OFF TO STEVE ANDREW
Airlie Beach community pays its tribute
WHEN the Airlie Beach community comes together to celebrate Steve Andrew’s life, one thing is certain.
There will be music in the air.
Steve “the hat” Andrew, as he was affectionately known, lost a mercifully short battle with cancer on Saturday night.
But not before making his mark, both on the Airlie Beach live music scene and in the wider community.
Born on January 23, 1961 in Cornwall, England, Steve was just three years old when his family moved to Sydney, Australia.
It was 2004 when he arrived in Airlie Beach to buy the business ‘Whitsunday Garden World’.
His sons Ollie, 27, and Liam, 24, said the GFC wasn’t kind to their dad, but in true “Steve the hat” style he didn’t let it get him down.
“No matter what was thrown at him he’d make the most of what he had – and it wasn’t about what you had, it was who you were and what made you happy,” Liam said.
And one of the things that made Steve happy was music.
Steve, who was particularly fond of blues and roots, could often be seen in an Airlie Beach bar playing harmonica with a local band, or simply sitting on the sidelines supporting up and coming local talent.
His trademark white Panama hat became a regular fixture at local gigs and the annual Airlie Beach Festival of Music.
House mate and Whitsunday photographer Andrew Pattinson said the music festival ambassadors, who Steve had helped co-ordinate, would now wear white hats in his honour.
Airlie Beach Festival of Music founder Gavin Butlin said a “Steve the hat” trophy would now be awarded to the winner of each year’s Battle of the Bands adding, “he lived for music and he’ll be dearly missed”.
Others in the community paying tribute to Steve and his contribution to their lives are members of the Whitsunday Football Club, for whom he was a former goal keeper and qualified referee.
Whitsunday FC president Steve Tween said clubs from as far afield as Rockhampton who had heard of Steve’s passing had sent condolences.
“Steve was a very well respected referee who took no nonsense from players on either side and wasn’t afraid to issue red cards when warranted,” he said.
“More recently he became a match day announcer and MC for our social events – and we at Whitsunday FC knew Steve as ‘story Steve’ not ‘Steve the hat’ because he always had a story to tell relevant to the particular game we were watching.”
Mr Tween said a minute’s silence would be held in Steve’s honour at Whitsunday FC’s home games this Saturday.
A celebration of Steve’s life will be held at the Whitsunday Sailing Club this Sunday at 11am.
“We’re going to have a big party for him because music was his life,” Ollie said. “He wouldn’t want us sitting there crying over him. He’d want us to remember him as the person he was.”
Steve ‘the hat’ Andrew.