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Inaugural Private Tour and Morning Tea
New South Wales Branch Order of Australia

On Thursday 23rd May 2019, 30 members and guests were treated to an exclusive private tour of RAAF Base Richmond.

We observed the logistics of how the Air Force and Army work together to deploy vehicles, ARB’s, food, artillery and medical supplies into war regions or to provide relief in war torn countries and in flood or drought relief areas.

We were hosted by Flight Sergeant James Chapman (better known as “Chappy”) Visits Coordinator, Air Base Command Post, who showed us around the Base including a close-up hands-on visit of the Hercules Aircraft that were undergoing regular scheduled maintenance by the AirBus Engineering Crew.

Standing in the Hercules Aircraft with the tailgate open, transported us to a movie scene, hearts racing and ready to parachute out of the aircraft! Exciting yes but it was also a hair-raising reminder of the bravery and dedication of our Veterans and the current serving Armed Forces!

After a comprehensive tour of the RAAF Base and inspection of the aircraft, we were escorted to the Sergeants Mess where we had a scrumptious morning tea surrounded by over a century of extensive war time and RAAF memorabilia – If only the walls could talk!

VALE – Dr. Thomas John Woolard OAM
17/03/1931 – 21/06/2019

Tom died peacefully early Friday morning 21/06/2019.
Tom was widowed in 2018 after 62 years of marriage to Alison.

Tom is survived by his 3 children Andrew, Margaret and Greg and their three spouses, 11 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Tom was much loved by his family and loved and respected by his peers and colleagues. Tom was acknowledged to be a great mentor to a whole host of people who he supported in the medical fraternity over his 50 years as a doctor.

One of Tom’s most significant achievements was being the founding physician in establishing the Hunter Rehabilitation Service.
Remembrance gathering at Newcastle Racecourse, Monday 1 July 2019 at 11am with a light lunch served afterwards.

Vale: Ruth Louise Cotterill OAM

Ruth Cotterill OAM passed away at ‘Calvary’ Nursing Home in Cessnock last Sunday.

She would have been 90 in November.

Ruth Louise Cotterill OAM

After arriving in Walcha in the early 1970s with her husband Ron (who worked for NSW State Forests), along with their three sons Geoffrey, Paul and John it didn’t take Ruth long to become an active member of the community.

‘Mrs Cotts’ (as she was affectionately known) was soon involved with the Walcha P&C Ladies Auxiliary, the Scout Association, Junior Indoor Hockey, Swimming Club and the Cricket Association. She was also a member of the Bicentenary Church of England Restoration and Walcha Youth Club Committees.

She was a life member of the Walcha Junior Indoor Hockey Association, the Royal Far West Children’s’ Health Scheme, Walcha Cricket Association, Northern Tablelands Cricket Association and the Walcha Rugby Union Cricket Club.

On top of that Ruth was awarded Sports Administrator of the Year in 1983 at the annual Walcha Australia Day celebrations and then a few years later in 1988 had an Order of Australia Medal bestowed on her for services to not only the Walcha community but also Dungog where she was a member of the Dungog Mother’s Club and the P&C Association up until the time she left the district. Ruth was a foundation member of the Dungog School Boys Rugby League Auxiliary where she served for ten years before awarded life membership.

It is people like this throughout the country who quietly work for their community that make this nation great

Manning Regional Group Luncheon
Wingham May 24th 2019

On Friday the 24th of May, Regional Convenor, Wing Commander (Ret’d) Greg Hartig AM welcomed some 42 members and guests to The Manning Regional Group’s luncheon to welcome and congratulate the 2019 Australia Day Recipients for The Manning local area.

The luncheon was held at The Wingham District Memorial Services Club in their new function room on the third floor of the club.

The Guest Speaker for the day was Mr. Gregory Blaze OAM, of Old Bar. Greg gave us a presentation on his work that he carried out for The United Nations in The Middle East last year, complete with slides showing us very interesting facts of the area.

He told us of Two Books that he has published. The first book published in 2014 named THERE ARE NO WAVES IN MOGADISHU, The true story of an Aussie in the most dangerous city of earth. The 2nd book named ENCOUNTER WITH THE CHRIST, published in 2018.

Greg’s presentation was enjoyed by all in attendance on the day and he was asked many questions on his time working in Israel.

The 2019 Recipients in attendance on the day were:

Mrs Beryl Fenwick OAM, for her contribution to the local Anglican Church and
to the community of Taree.

Reverend Trevor Leggott OAM, for his service to the Indigenous community, in particular for his work as general director for Australian Indigenous Ministries (AIM) for 21 Years.

Mr Donald James Secomb OAM, for services to the arts, particularly through music. These include the following: Taree Arts Council, Taree and District Eisteddfod Society, Sinfonia Mid North Coast, Manning Valley Choral Society.

Mr Harvey Lee Else OAM, for service to the aviation industry, and to the community of Taree.

  • Harvey was a Helicopter Pilot for Helicopter Utilities Ltd;
  • Helicopter Pilot, Commonwealth Division of Mapping, 1968-1971;
  • Pilot and Surveyor. Australian Antarctic Research Expedition, 1964-1965;
  • Helicopter Pilot, Mad Max II, Movie 1981;
  • Namesake, Else Nunataks (1965) and Else Platform (1969) Antarctica.
  • Harvey is a past Chief Flying instructor and Foundation member of Manning River Aero Club,
  • as well as an Honorary Member of Rotary Club of Taree and Patron of The Cundletown Historical Society.

I had the pleasure of speaking on the day, explaining our Web Site for The Order of Australia Association, and saying that as NSW Regional Group Coordinator once again, that I am very pleased to be back visiting our Regional Groups, and to once again meet and speak with the many long term members and guests as well as the new awardee’s, their friends and families.

I thanked the members and guests of The Manning Regional Group on the day for making me feel so welcome and I look forward to attending other functions there in the future.

Ron Sharpe OAM
NSW Branch Regional Coordinator

The Blue Mountain, Hawkesbury, Nepean Regional Group

Sunday the 2nd of June 2019, I and some 35 members and guest’ of The Blue Mountain, Hawkesbury, Nepean Regional Group Boarded the Nepean Belle Paddle Wheeler for a three-hour Leisurely Tour along the Nepean River.

Regional Convenor Mr Lindsay Callaghan OAM and his wife Joan welcomed everyone on board as we prepared to enjoy the fellowship and wonderful meal on board The Nepean Belle.

The Nepean River and surrounds are rich in local history, and we cruised the beautiful Nepean River on board The Majestic Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, listening to the commentary from Captain Chris Bennett, whilst his friendly staff served us with a fresh and tasty two course meal. Captain Chris led us on a tour of discovery and told us of historical facts of the local Penrith Region.

During the cruise, Chris moored the vessel into the shore, allowing us to disembark and enjoy a walk around and take in this beautiful part of the National Park and the immediate shoreline, also to enjoy light refreshments whilst there.

On board with us, was our NSW State Chairman, Mr. Peter Falk OAM and his wife Suzie. Our Committee Chairman for The John Lincoln Youth and Community Service Awards `Dr. Frank Kelleher OAM and his wife Dianne. It was good to meet up with past NSW Secretary and past National Secretary Mrs Colleen Wardell and her Husband Dr John Wardell.

It was also good to meet up with Em Prof Graham Swain AM and his wife Dell. Graham was the NSW Branch Chairman back in 1997 and during his term as NSW Chairman pushed for and increased the number of Regional Groups throughout NSW. Dell has always supported our association as well.

With us on the day were New Awardees, they were:

  • Mr. John Miller O.A.M.
  • Mr. Trevor Hamilton O.A.M.
  • Mr. Neville Barnier O.A.M. and
  • LT. Col. John Howells O.A.M. RFD

I hope that they enjoyed their day with us. I thank Regional Convener, Lindsay Callaghan OAM, his wife Joan for organizing a wonderful day, and their Daughter, Geraldine Barnes for being our photographer for the day. I very much appreciate all your efforts.

Thank you for a very Interesting and entertaining day.

Ron Sharpe OAM,
NSW Regional Group Coordinator.

VALE – Dr.Arthur Rickards “Rick” OAM

Click here for the full document

Dr.Arthur Rickards “Rick” OAM

Arthur was inspired by his mother’s Grandfather who invented the “viper” syringe for inoculating cattle and as the Courier Mail  observed, “Fredrick Blackman took a keen interest in everything that tended to the Pastoral industry and was instrumental in founding the Queensland Stockbreeders and Grazier’s Association” (Courier Mail – 1901)

His father, Cecil Rickards returned to his Queensland farm after four years in WW1 with the “Croix du Guerre” award from the Belgium Government. Arthur was seven when he died and his scholarly mother supported his academically successful life. He, like many of his cohort from UNE was inspired by visionaries such as the foundation Professor of Agricultural Economics, Jack Lewis. Jack is quoted as saying:

“Arthur Rickards entrepreneurial skills put ABRI on an efficient self-sustaining basis.”

“Rick” as he was christened by his Ag. Sc. friends from Qld. University loved his mates from this time in his life and shared many outrageous adventures many of which I’ve since discovered were of his planning.

I met “Rick” at one of the famous UNE Summer Schools in Music in the late ‘60s. He at the time was a resident Fellow in Robb  college. We dined at the still operational “Mandarin” Chinese restaurant and then graduated to the Greek restaurant in “Nick’s Café”. He thought I’d be interested in seeing the UNE Computer which operated day and night and I dismissed this opportunity as I needed to get some more practice in before the concert the next day. He was a little surprised at this response.

Over the years, we have always discussed our interests and supported each other. Apart from his outstanding contributions in the Rural industry, he also worked to establish the New England Conservatorium of Music which is housed in the old Teacher’s College.

This provides employment for musicians and allows the well established reputation Armidale has for fine music to continue. I too have supported his local farming interest by ushering cattle off the Boorolong Road and away from the oncoming traffic!

For almost 50 years I have shared my life with an energetic, creative visionary who looked to make a difference and succeeded. He was intelligent, ambitious, generous and kind to people and although he received significant awards, he didn’t seek them

He gave opportunities to people, particularly bright ambitious graduates from UNE. Many were inspired by his work ethic and productivity and have themselves nurtured successful professional lives.

Deputy Chairman’s address to Investees

To read the Deputy Chairman’s address to Investees, please download the PDF file here


It was a sea of shiny gold medals as local recipients of the Order of Australia Award met at a luncheon held at Saumarez Homestead on Friday 31st May to re-start the Armidale Branch of the Order of Australia Association.

Those in attendance included Mr Ron Sharpe OAM, Regional co-ordinator of the OAA and Mr Fred Edwards OAM, President of the New England North West Branch of the Association. Speaker Dr Robin Jones AM of Sanctuary Armidale gave an update on the Ezidi Refugee re-settlement program.

New recipients of the Award from 2017 to the present were welcomed with a reading of their citations. The event also included a PowerPoint presentation of all Armidale & Region recipients from 1977 to the present day. This list will form the basis for an Honour Board of Order of Australia recipients which it is hoped will be placed in a prominent position in Armidale in the near future.

The event was organised by steering committee members, Mrs Maria Hitchcock OAM and Mrs Sue Denison OAM.

VALE – Donald Stewart Johnston OAM

‘A Life Well Lived’

Donald Stewart Johnston OAM

Donald Stewart Johnston OAM passed away on 10th March 2019 ending a 65-year life span serving his community.

Don was born and raised in a small rural community in northern NSW, and after completing school at the age of 16yrs and as the oldest son, his career in farming was already decided.

Don always attributed his interest in public life to the scout movement, which he joined at the age of nine, reaching the level of King Scout. After the 1954 flood, which decimated his community, Don (age 24yrs) was voted President of the fund-raising committee to rebuild the community. Following this Don held many positions across many community services i.e. P&C Association, Bush Fire Brigade, A&I Society, Progress Association, various Hall Committee’s and served on Terania Shire & Lismore City Councils.

After taking up Lawn Bowls in 1960, Don soon became President of his local club, before being elected to Northern Rivers District Bowling Association (NRDBA) where he held various senior roles spanning 18 years. In 1995, he was elected Zone 1 State Councillor to the Royal NSW Bowls Association and formed the NRDBA Mixed Bowls Tour Group. After his retirement he served on the Board of Directors at both Byron Bay and Alstonville Bowling Clubs and worked tirelessly to improve these respective clubs.

In 2000, Don was presented with The Australia Sports Medal, and in 2008, he was the proud recipient of the OAM for his service to the community and his contribution to Bowls. In 2010 he reinvigorated the Clarence \Richmond Branch of the OAM Society and remained the Branch Convenor at his passing.

Hastings Macleay Regional Branch

The Hastings Macleay Branch held a function on Thursday 4th April 2019. 33 people were in attendance at the lovely Saltys’ on Hastings. As you can see from the photos, it was a lovely day at a lovely location. The food and service provided by XS Foods (Craig and Rachel) was fantastic and enjoyed by all.

Ther local breakfast radio host, Mark Strachan OAM, was the guest speaker, and he kept everyone laughing with stories of his 30 years on Breakfast at Port Macquarie.

Besides our Order of Australia award recipients, we had first time attendee Bob Emery MBE who received his award while living in the Solomon Islands. Also, in attendance were three of our Australian Police Medal recipients Ian Campbell and his wife Dawn, Eric Gollan and his wife Anne plus Doug Graham and his wife Linda. It is nice to acknowledge such contributors to Australian society.

Pictures from the event can be seen in the gallery below.

Laurie Smith OAM

Convenor, Hastings Macleay Order of Australia Association