The “Stanley Bignell Walkway” at Wentworth Falls Lake was named after Stanley Bignell who was a tireless community pioneer working with Blue Mountains City Council to introduce a number of sporting opportunities for youth of the Mountains.
He served in the RAAF in World War 2 with the rank of Flying Officer and was taken as a prisoner of war in January 1945. He moved to Hazelbrook with his family in 1956.
As a manual arts teacher at Katoomba High School, he taught boat building and founded the Blue Mountains Sailing Club at Wentworth Falls Lake, providing opportunity for teenagers to participate in this sport. This included construction, sailing and water safety. He also worked with Council to have the lake developed to facilitate its use as a recreational lake.
Stanley was involved in many other projects promoting recreation for youth in the Blue Mountains. At Gloria Park, Hazelbrook he initiated and supervised construction of netball courts and gardens and founded the Hazelbrook Soccer and Netball Clubs in the 1950’s.
Stanley’s premature passing in 1978 was triggered by injuries sustained whilst fighting in WW 2.
Stanley enlisted in the RAAF during World War 2 and trained as a pilot. He obtained the rank of Flying Officer and was the captain and pilot of Lancaster bomber aircraft, serving in the United Kingdom. On Sunday, January 28, 1945, while on a mission into German territory, flak struck the starboard outer wing, causing it to catch fire. After an attempt to extinguish the fire, it become apparent that the aircraft was doomed. After his crew bailed got out of the bomb-laden plane he bailed out just as it burst into a fireball, the force of which pushed him clear of the flames. After losing its right wing, the Lancaster spiralled from its 20,000-foot altitude and exploded. Some of the crew blacked out after bailing out at high altitude but all survived. They were captured by the Germans and became prisoners of war. Injuries which Stanley sustained during his landing would eventually trigger his premature death at age 57 in 1978.
In 2013, Council undertook a process for naming of the new pedestrian bridge over the Highway at Hazelbrook. The community was invited to nominate names and a number were put forward, including that of Stanley Bignell.
At the Council meeting of 10 December 2013, the Council resolved to name the bridge after Private Ronald Field, who lost his life whilst fighting in Vietnam in 1965. As Stanley Bignell had ranked highly in this naming process, the Council further resolved to seek alternative opportunities to recognise him.
At the Ordinary Meeting of the Council of the 28 January 2014, it was resolved: “That a report comes to the Council regarding opportunities to recognise the contributions of Stanley Bignell at Wentworth Falls Lake.”