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William Rayner Hebblewhite OBE (31 Dec 1885 – 11 Mar 1966)

William Rayner Hebblewhite O.B.E., was Standards Australia’s first and longest serving Chief Executive Officer. He dedicated almost 30 years to the world of standards and was instrumental in supporting development of war production and civil defence during the second world war.

William Rayner Hebblewhite was the pioneer of Standards Australia, acting as the organisations first, and longest serving, Chief Executive Officer.

In his 29-year career within the world of standards he came to be known as an ‘excellent strategist and institution builder’.

Mr Hebblewhite was born to father, William Raynor (senior) and mother, Mary Amelia in Strathfield NSW on 31 December 1885. He completed a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Sydney (1907-1911) taking a particular interest in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

As a young man, Mr Hebblewhite was employed as a professor at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. In his later years, he had an impressive career that extended beyond the standards body; into the Institute of Engineers Australia (IE-Aust, now known as Engineers Australia) the Council for Science and Industry Research (CSIR, now known as the CSIRO) and other scientific and industrial bodies. He would have a long-term interest in the IE-Aust as a member of the council from 1937 and later the national president in 1949.

His influence in Standards Australia began in July 1924, where Mr Hebblewhite became a member of the Main Committee for the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association (ACESA) as engineer-secretary. He would later become the chief executive and would continue to hold this title until 1953.

After working for some years in the engineering industry, the council of the IE-Aust unanimously decided that the award for the P N Russell Memorial Medal and scholarship be made to Mr Hebblewhite in 1959. This award was made in recognition of a lifetime of his service and contribution to science and engineering in Australia and is a small reflection of the significant role he had in the industry as well as his importance to the advancement of Standards Australia as an independent organisation.

Undoubtedly, one of his most notable contributions to the world of standards is his involvement in the establishment of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) post-war.

Prior to stepping into a leading role in the establishment of ISO, he played a pivotal role in extending Australia’s technical capacity before and during the second world war.

Under Mr Hebblewhite’s leadership, the Standards Association of Australia (formerly ACESA and now known as Standards Australia) would play an influential role in the development of war production and civil defence during the second world war. His advocacy for targeted standardisation to promote industrialisation would keep the post-war economy stimulated and ultimately benefit the interests of Australia’s long-term development initiatives.

Throughout his life, Mr Hebblewhite has had many great achievements. Most admirably is his elevation of the role of Standards Australia within the Australian community.

Today Standards Australia honours the memory of Mr Hebblewhite with the W.R Hebblewhite medal. Awarded annually as part of the Standards Awards, to those who have shown exceptional and dedicated contributions to standards. Winners are recognised for their leadership, technical expertise and the positive impact their work has made on the industry and community.

“We acknowledge and are incredibly grateful for Mr Hebblewhite’s efforts, commitment and passion for standards. It could be said that Standards Australia wouldn’t be the organisation it is today without his efforts. He is a true standards hero”, said Adrian O’Connell, Chief Executive Officer Standards Australia.