Leigh Stewart OAM

What makes up the person?

Leigh Stewart OAM

Leigh Stewart – over 30 years of doing things differently.


“There is very little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference”.


Leigh’s work ethic is based on making a difference, an ethic that was instilled in him from an early age.

Born in Wollongong in 1969, son of local businessman and community leader Dave and Radio personality Jan. From the age of 4, Leigh worked in his father’s 4 toy shops commencing a lifelong career in sales and dealing with people’s needs. Starting his working life in financial planning at age 19 also at that age Leigh was elected to the board of directors of The Illawarra Leagues Club (The youngest Leagues Club Director in NSW history). Leigh soon moved into retail working for National retail chain Chandlers and becoming one of the country’s most successful sales agents. In his final year of retail, Leigh personally sold an amazing 1.6 million dollars of appliances, the leading salesperson in Australia for Chandlers.

Over the next 20 years, Leigh worked hard to become a leading real estate agent, auctioneer and trainer – Balancing his love for Real Estate with his passion for fundraising and making a difference to his community.

Named the Illawarra Real Estate Salesperson of the year for two consecutive years, 1998 and 1999. In 2001 he was elected Chairperson of The Illawarra Real Estate Institute, a position he held for 9 years. In 2005 Leigh was awarded the NSW Real Estate industry’s highest honour The John Greig Medal for services to the industry and community. A keen property investor at all levels, giving him a remarkable sense of all facets of the property market.

On Australia Day 2011 at 41 years old Leigh was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services to the community

Over the past 30 years, he has been involved with countless community groups and organizations, personally raising over $10 million dollars for those in need. In 1999 Leigh instigated the Bandage Bear Benefit Nights which raised money for cancer research at Westmead Children’s Hospital and his own charity Kids Fund (Illawarra Children with Severe Disabilities) which he co-founded in 2000. Proceeds from the nights have exceeded $3m over 14 years. Kids Fund alone has distributed over $1m worth of equipment to over 400 Illawarra families.

Leigh was instrumental in the development and opening of the Fairy Meadow Community Bank. He also served as Chairperson and Shareholder of the Wollongong Hawks Basketball team between 2004 and 2009.

In 2009, working for The University of Wollongong as the Development Manager for Community Health and Medical Research. He was a major driver in forming Southern Children’s Care – and advisory group who worked towards the overall health and wellbeing of Children in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven areas. A lifetime highlight was in 2012 announcing the search for a community funded, internationally recognised Professor of Paediatrics to work in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven areas. This position will directly change the children’s healthcare landscape in those regions.

In 2009 also Leigh formed an annual Cricket fundraiser “Stumping Serious Diseases” – lead by UOW Ambassador Adam Gilchrist and involving other leading cricketers and personality’s worldwide raising money for medical research. During this period, he formed a partnership with The University of Wollongong and the highly respected Bradman Foundation.

In 2013, his Leigh’s long-term efforts within the community he was honoured by having his photo on the front cover of the Illawarra White and Yellow Pages phone book.

Leigh has created friendships with some this country’s highest profile and most respected identities such as Adam Gilchrist and Dr Charlie Teo. Leigh received a career highlight by the countries most trusted individual, “Leigh I have been attending these types of events almost weekly for 15 years and you are the best ever’ Dr Charlie Teo. Leigh was MC and Auctioneer at a fundraising dinner for Dr Teo’s Cure for Life Foundation.

Leigh comes from one of the original Illawarra families. Stewart Street, Wollongong, was named after Leigh’s great grandfather. Leigh’s Father, Dave, was and remains his inspiration. Dave a World War 2 Veteran, a driving force behind Leigh forming Digger Drop Off in 2020 www.diggerdropoff.com.au. During covid and for the following two Anzac Days he led a group of local volunteers distributing over 3000 respect hampers to those who served and their widows.

Mentored by some of Australia’s finest and continues to draw and build on those experiences and learning to continue his goal in life to make a difference.