Photos | Recognition shines in fields of praise | Queen's Birthday Honours

Pride and joy in growing solid funds for those in need


An impressive 62 years of charity work has been more than recognition for Ralph Edward Heness of Peakhurst, it has been a lifelong enjoyable journey.

Mr Heness was awarded a Medal (OAM ) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to the community of Auburn.

He was the founding member of Community Pride Group, Auburn City Council, and a Citizen of the Year in 2006.

He was also organiser of Auburn Lidcombe Lions Club, and headed up the annual chairty golf day for 46 years. The club named its 47th annual charity golf day in his honour, and is now known as The Ralph Heness Charity Golf Day.

The recipient of seven district governor awards is also proud of his contributions to the Cash-A-Can recycling program.

Another facet to his career was working in breakfast community radio 100.9 as a volunteer broadcaster from 2008-2011.

Mr Heness also worked for NSW Bridges in fire service for 40 years.

"I hadn't heard of Lions Club but when I was approached in 1975, I have been with them ever since," he said.

"Charity is in my head. I've raised thousands of dollars over the years. My wife also loves making cakes, and has done lots of baking for hospitals in Auburn since 1962.

"The recyclying program was a traditional way of collecting recycled good by trailer, and cashing them in the old way.

"I've seen some amazing things and this is an honour for me, but I stand there for people who work with me."

He was also rewarded Citizen of the Year under the Local Government Act on Australia Day 2006.


Servicing veterans and their families is part of a day's work


Many older people in the community would agree that their community RSL club is a great hub of service.

Alfred Charles McGrath of Oatley would certainly be one of those people.

He has been awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to veterans and their families.

The Returned and Services League of Australia Oatley Sub-Branch former treasurer and life member and treasurer since 2002, valued the contributions that the facilties provide.

He was also president of Oatley RSL and Community Club from 2005-2009, a former director, and life member since 2018.

But also to his name, is the work he has done with NSW Fire Brigade (now known as NSW Fire and Rescue), being a former senior executive.

Mr McGrath was also the former treasurer of Mortdale Bowling Club and an honourary auditor of Oatley Probus.

This award is not his first despite perhaps being the highest honour. He also received a St George Community award, a Volunteer of the Year award as part of Georges River Council in 2011 and 2012, an a Public Service Medal in 1991.


A life of missionary work takes recipient around the globe


Helping those disadvantaged across the seas became passionate life's work for Reverend Kevin Francis Engel of Caringbah.

Mr Engel has been awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Divsion for service to the Anglican Church of Australia.

Since 2006, he has been an honourary chaplain of Wooloware Shores Anglican Retirement Village at Taren Point.

He has been an honourary associate minister at St Philip's Anglican Church at Caringbah since 2007.

A life member of Bible Society, Mr Engel was part of the Church Missionary Society.

Volunteering is also a core preoccupation, giving up his time for Christian Communications Trust.

But the work Mr Engel is most proud of, is his international service. As director of literature at a Christian Education Centre, the former chancellor and canon was greatly inspired by his work an an Anglican missionary in Tanzania in 1953-1970.

The trained accountant discovered his trade came in handy, as his qualification also supported his work around the world as diocese finance secretary and in Christian communications.

"People kept inviting me to go to different parts of Africa, and then Asia," Reverend Engel said. "I was attached to the missionary society for 40 years, and worked in 80 countries.

"Tanzania was pretty backward and there was not much development. The church was involved in lots of national development - building hospitals and schools. People were living in mud huts, and children had no access to medical treatment or schooling. Very few trained tradespeople were around so were building up the nation that we hoped we would form. Now of course the country is fast developed and it's a great privilege to see that transition."


A blooming honour for a flowering career


"It's quite a shock, but I'm very honoured and feel privileged that my work has been worthy enough to be nominated," says Cecily Enid Rogers, of Caringbah.

Mrs Rogers has been awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of the Australia in the General Division for service to horticulture, and to floral art.

A love of flowers and gardens marked the beginning of a blooming venture.

Since 2018, Mrs Rogers has been an honourary vice-president of the Royal Horticultural Society of NSW, a floral art judge and member of the organising committee of Rivendell Flower Show since 2017.

She was a recipient of the President's Award in Garden Clubs of Australia 2016.

"Right from a child, I always wanted to be a flower lady," Mrs Rogers said.

"My grandfather grew flowers in his garden, so I took an interest in the outdoors. It started off with me playing with flowers as a young child, then I grew up wanting to be a florist, which I fulfilled. It's been my life - I'm about to clock up 60 years - it's a long time in my industry."

Also a member of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW and former vice-president of Professional Florists' Association, Mrs Rogers has taught floral art at TAFE.

"I was among the first group of floristry students to go through TAFE in 1960," she said. "I started teaching part-time in 1983, and loved ever moment. It was never job, it was a lifestyle.

"Up until last year I was going in as a guest lecturer but I still like to keep up to date with trends because it's a lifetime of learning. Good flower arranging follows the same elements of design as fashion and art.

"Flowers are all beautiful. Different seasons bring different things. Orchids are beautiful and roses of course."

She says there's more to flowers than people may realise.

"Flowers have an emotional connection to us, links to psychology," she said. "Colours are important and you send different colours for different occasions. I still get excited by it."

The industry has taken Mrs Rogers right across the world, from Boston to India this year for a flower conference.

"You can't live without flowers, and it's lovely to see indoor plants coming back into fashion again."


Charitable gestures are a rewarding feat on and off the court


More than one thing has kept William Wordsworth Gilmour of Sylvania busy over many decades.

A key and most memorable achievement, is supporting the community and giving back to those in need.

Mr Gilmour has been awarded with a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to the community through charitable initiatives.

The philanthropist and benefactor has helped a range of organisations including Sutherland Hospital, St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation, Endeavour Sports High School's Special Kids with a Disability (SKWAD), Sutherland Police Citizens Youth Club and research for multiple sclerosis.

"We've given away buses to many of those organisation, and the one that I'm most proud of in many ways, is donating $1.5 million for a dialysis unit at Sutherland Hospital in 2008," Mr Gilmour said. "They didn't have a unit at all, and it's still going strong."

Now semi-retired, Mr Gilmour is also a tennis coach, a former player of the 1950s and experienced referee himself.

The international arena was his forte, and since 1979 he has overseen many matches at major tournaments around the world including Wimbledon, grand slams and opens.

He still coaches kids at Seymour Shaw Miranda, and enjoys inspiring future sports stars within his family-run business, Gilmour Tennis, alongside his two sons.


Engineering the right move within community and beyond


Engineering has been the backbone of Christopher Alan Watson's career, but it has been more than an occupation.

Mr Watson of Cronulla has been awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to engineering.

He was the national president from 1997-1999 of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia from 1997-1999, and past president of the NSW division.

Leading the Municipal Engineering Foundation of NSW since 2010, Mr Watson was also former president of Local Government Engineers Association and has professional appointments with the University of Technology, Sydney.

Within the community, he was the general manager of Rockdale Council from 2003-2011 and the director of engineering from 1991-2003.

In his final year of high school, Mr Watson decided to join the industry, working as a junior in construction at Cessnock Council in 1965.

He travelled back to Sydney to complete university, and spent the rest of his working life in metropolitan councils.

"I loved it. It was a time Rockdale was doing lots of good things - lots of improvements."

Another highlight was mentoring the next generation of engineers.

"At the institute in those days it was about needing staff development, not just picking up an engineer with a degree, but councils needed to train people, it's something we take for granted now.

"The idea was to have links to educational outcomes, which was innovative at the time. Today it's a much more successful organisation than it was in my day.

"It's been interesting that this has been recognised, but I'm only a part player. The changes in the industry has been quite amazing. The way young people are now being encouraged to join local government and engineering programs, including those for women, I'm very proud to see that happen, and be part of steering it in that direction in some way."


Diverse horizons for solicitor recognised


Supporting a multicultural community was always a cause close to Bahia Abou-Hamad's heart.

The Menai resident has been officially recognised for her outstanding achievements, as she has been awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to multicultural affairs, and to the arts.

Dr Abou-Hamad is the president of Association for the Development of the Arabic Folk Poetry in Australia. She established the Salon of the Bahia Abou-Hamad for Literature, for the promotion of multicultural music, poetry and history.

A representative of regional interfaith and dialogues, she is the former manager of Maronita Heritage Centre.

Most of her work has been involved in immigration and legal services as a solicitor and immigration advisor for a variety of churches, and the Lebanese Community Council of NSW, plus as a member of Australian-Christian Muslim Friendship Society.

She was admitted as a solicitor to Supreme Court of NSW in 2001, and is an accredited interpretor of English-Arabic.

Dr Abou-Hamad is a member of Migration Institute of Australia, Law Society of NSW, Immigration and Rights Centre, and Australian Commercial and Disputes Centre.

She was named an an ambassador for peace in United Peace Federation Sydney in 2016, and in 2011 received a youth award from Australian Lebanese Association of NSW.

"The feeling of being recognised, the appreciation of my work, the full support of my missions gives me strength and power to help the needy, and serve the wider Australian community, albeit all obstacles," she said.


High honour for industry specialist


Kevin O'Shea of Cronulla has been appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to the refrigeration and airconditioning industry.

He has been president of Refrigeration and Airconditioning Contractors Association of Australia since 1999, and of NSW since 1991.

Also appointed chairman of the Australian Refrigeration Council in 2014, Mr O'Shea has taken part in electrotechnology and vocational training.

Of his most fascinating roles, was as a former committee member who helped control Legionella oubreaks.

"It has been a privilege to meet with so many wonderful people through my time here at the association," Mr O'Shea said

"Over the years our industry has seen many challengers like the phase out of CFC refrigerants to address the ozone hole and now the phase down of HFC's to reduce global warming.

"The refrigeration and air conditioning industry is a great industry and I am very happy to have spent my whole working life, from a 15 year-old apprentice to now working in this trade."


Flying high in success with ambition and charge


Colin Palmer of South Hurstville has been recognised for his service to youth following nearly 50 years service to the Australian Air Force Cadets.

Mr Palmer who also had a long and career with the ABC, has received the medal of the Order of Australia.

He began serving in the government funded youth organisation in 1974 joining as an adult member.

Since then he worked many roles including Director of Operations, National Coordinator of Ground Training as well as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of 318 Squadron in Sutherland.


A life-saving venture is rightly rewarded


A Cronulla resident who has spent a majority of his life devoted to surf life saving has received an Order of Australia medal.

John De Cean says receiving the award "was certainly a surprise and a tremendous honour".

An active member of the surf life-saving community since age10, Mr De Cean's long list of service includes working at the Sydney Surf Life saving branch as well as the Sydney juniors branch for two decades.

To this day he still serves at his beloved Wanda SLSC as Director of Administration.

"Seeing parents now, who I remember coming through as nippers is amazing to see and such a thrill for me and makes me feel great about the work we do putting it on each weekend," he said.


Serving and training with distinction 


Described as an exemplary public servant, Mr Wright receives was recognised for outstanding public service to skills development programs and infrastructure projects in NSW.

He served the people of NSW with distinction throughout a career of almost 50 years. As Project Director Infrastructure at TAFE NSW, he was instrumental in delivering the Barangaroo Skills Exchange (BSX), a partnership between Lendlease and TAFE NSW to deliver on site training and up-skilling for workers involved in the construction of the Barangaroo project.

Under his management the project met or exceeded all its targets, including more than 1000 apprenticeships provided with five per cent Indigenous participants, 11,000 workers trained, and more than 50,000 training outcomes.

BSX was a world-first, global best-in-class government and industry partnership which has provided a significant social and economic return for the state. BSX has won numerous awards including the 2016 Winner of the Best Industry Collaboration Award at the Australian Training Awards, the 2016 Best Industry Collaboration at the NSW Training Awards, the 2016 Innovation Award from Property Council of NSW, and the 2014 NSW Premier's Partnership Award.

Based on the success of BSX, Mr Wright went on to help design and create the highly successful Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program, which has since been adopted as a standard for the NSW government on all infrastructure projects. The Skills Exchange model he designed has become the standard-bearer for on-site skilling in the construction and infrastructure industries.