A Labour of love:Recipients

Meg Larkin AM, Tamworth

TAMWORTH woman Meg Larkin has been named as a Member of the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day Honours List. 

Ms Larkin was recognised for her significant service to the arts as a leader and advocate of regional organisations.

She wears many hats in the community and is well known across the Tamworth region for her contribution to cultural and community planning. 

Ms Larkin has been an active member of a number of cultural organisations, including Regional Arts NSW, which she chairs, Regional Arts Australia, Arts North West and the Tamworth Regional Conservatorium of Music and also serves on the board of the New England Regional Art Museum at Armidale.

During her time as the Tamworth Regional Council cultural and community services manager Ms Larkin was a key component in developing the plans for the new Tamworth Regional Gallery and Library on Peel St, helping to design the new building.

Ms Larkin said she was astonished, surprised and honoured to be appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia.

Her passion for ensuring regional people had the same access to the arts and culture as their city cousins developed more than a decade ago and she said, in the time since, her role as an advocate had become a “labour of love”.

“Watching things change and progress has been wonderful,” she said. 

“While I am deeply honoured to have received such an acknowledgement, I didn’t do any of it on my own: I have been surrounded and supported by so many wonderful and interesting people and they have been the thing that has kept me going.”

The Reverend Father Thomas Harold Shanahan OAM, Tamworth

TAMWORTH’S Father Tom Shanahan has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to veterans and their families, and to the community.

Father Shanahan, an ex-serviceman himself, said he was blown away by the honour.

He said his desire to become involved in 

the RSL Sub-Branch in Tamworth and, over time, other branches across the region had been a result of his own time as an Australian serviceman. 

In the 40 years since he became involved Father Shanahan said he hadn’t looked back. 

“I felt I could offer something to people because I had been there and experienced similar things myself,” the Vietnam veteran said. 

Father Shanahan said being listed among others on the Australia Day honours list had come as a complete shock. 

“It was completely unexpected,” he said. 

“I have only ever done things because I felt they were part of my path. I am lucky enough to have met so many wonderful and different people along the way – and the beauty of that is it has brought me great joy.”

Since retiring from the priesthood he had made every effort to go where he was needed. 

“In that time, I have been able to help people that needed me to but to also explore the history of the war and different people’s experiences,” he said. “But I have always enjoyed being able to share my experiences and help other ex-servicemen and their families and being able to reach out to people.”

Malcolm Peters OAM, Ashford

THERE are almost too many feathers to count in Mal Peter’s cap. Mr Peters, a former mayor of Inverell Shire, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in today’s Australia Day honours list and the number of hats he wears today is long.

Mr Peters and his wife, Anne, run a beef, sheep and cropping enterprise in Ashford, 80km north of Inverell, but in his spare time he has made it his job to connect with communities across the northern inland, in an attempt to increase the area’s population and ensure people in regional NSW have the same opportunities as their city cousins.

At one time or another Mr Peters, the chairman of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, has been not only the Inverell mayor, but also a member of the Regional Development Advisory Committee to the NSW government, a board member of the Rural Assistance Authority, member of the federal Ministerial Advisory Council on Regional Australia, and the chairman of the Regional Australia 

Institute.

Away from his official capacities, Mr Peters is a life member of the Australian Farm Institute and the NSW Farmers’ Association, of which he is a former president.

His Australia Day nod acknowledges his almost tireless service to primary industry, regional development and the community.

Mr Peters told The Leader he was “chuffed” to have received the recognition.

“I’m very proud,” he said. 

“I haven’t ever done anything for the recognition – I have done it because I have always been concerned that inland Australia would be left behind, and I believe it’s important to fight for our fair share.

“If you’re not fighting you can’t get a result, and regional Australia has so much to offer.”

Kenneth Craddock OAM, Narrabri

COMMUNITY spirit and the gift of giving your time is something that was instilled in Keith Craddock from a young age. 

His father – his hero – taught Ken that one of the most important things in life was, even if you were poor financially it was important to be rich in spirit. 

Mr Craddock, the Narrabri RSL Sub-Branch president, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in today’s Australia Day Honours List. 

When told of the news he said you could have blown him over with a feather. 

“I was overwhelmed,” he said. 

“Normally, I don’t find it hard to find words, but it’s been a struggle since I got the call.”

Mr Craddock said his dedication to the Narrabri community in a range of activities and organisations had only ever been because it brought him joy.

“An honour like this is like being rewarded for something you love to do,” he said. 

“It’s a bonus, but I’ve only ever done the things I have because I wanted to and enjoyed doing them.”

Mr Craddock moved to Narrabri 33 years ago and was heavily involved in the Rural Fire Service. 

His beloved wife, Jan, passed away two years ago but he said she had been his main motivation to become so involved in the community. 

“I would see her generosity and was inspired by the things she would do,” he said. 

“I only wish she was here to share this with me.”

Mr Craddock was awarded his honour for service to the community of Narrabri, particularly veterans and their families.

Robert Holloway OAM, Armidale

ARMIDALE’S Robert Holloway is still pondering the announcement he has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. 

He said, thinking back over the “whys and hows” of his life, it was quite an honour.

Mr Holloway is a veteran of the Royal Australian Air Force and has played a pivotal role in the Retired Services League and Lions Club.

He is also a long-term volunteer for the city’s Meals On Wheels. 

During the Vietnam conflict, Mr Holloway served as a non-commissioned officer in Malaya, Singapore and Thailand and worked on outfitting aircrafts.

He counts himself lucky for not losing any friends in the conflict but says Anzac Day still holds a special meaning for him and other veterans. 

“Anzac Day, of course, is probably the most important day in the life of a serviceman and ex-servicemen. It’s the day we remember and celebrate our mates. I was fortunate I didn’t lose any mates,” he said.

“It brings back the memories. Not so much for me, but the others.

“Vietnam blokes and these Afghanistan boys, they’ll be doing a lot of  remembering.” 

Mr Holloway retired from the RAAF general reserve in 1995 but didn’t sit still for long – in 1996 he helped establish what became the Armidale Cadet Unit. 

He became the honorary Armidale RSL Sub-branch president in 2003 and was made a life member in 2010. Mr Holloway was a Lions Club district governor from 1995-96, after 20 years of being in the Lions Club District 201N1 Cabinet, and has participated in some of the club’s most important initiatives, including the Save Sight Foundation.

Brian Baldwin OAM, Inverell

INVERELL’S Brian Baldwin has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the community of Inverell through a range of organisations.

The list of organisations Mr Baldwin has donated his time to is long. 

He is the president of the St Vincent de Paul Society in the north-eastern region, an organisation he has been a member of since 1956.

For the past 21 years, in his spare time Mr Baldwin has volunteered at the Inverell hospital and been an active member of the Inverell Rotary Club, on occasion acting as the club’s treasurer. 

He has also been heavily involved in the Polio Plus Committee, as the president of the Holy Trinity School board, and a member of Inverell’s Sacred Heart Church parish council.

A former stock and station agent, Mr Baldwin was the president of the Inverell Stock Agents Association for 11 years and is a life member of the Inverell Jockey Club and a much-loved race caller. 

In 2011 Mr Baldwin was named Inverell Shire’s Citizen of the Year. 

Mr Baldwin said he was humbled by the honour and credited his ability to volunteer his time to his wife, Helen, and his four children. 

“Over the years they have been my biggest supporters. Without support it is hard to volunteer,” he said. 

Mr Baldwin said the reason he volunteered and was a part of so many organisations was because of the people.

“I love working with people and the region of NSW we live in,” he said. 

A keen mentor of youth through Rotary, Mr Baldwin said he was a strong believer in fostering youth.

“So when we are gone, they can take the reins,” he said.

John Atchison OAM,  Armidale

HISTORIAN John Atchison has been awarded the Medal of the Order of 

Australia for his service to the New England community. 

Dr Atchison, of Armidale, was awarded the honour for his work as a historian and educator.

A long-time member of the Armidale historical society, Dr Atchison has held a position 

as senior lecturer in Australian 

history at the University of New 

England for a number of years. 

Dr Atchison says he’s humbled by the honour, and describes his achievements as the result of the energy and efforts of a number of organisations he had been involved with. 

“I think it’s not just a personal award,” he said. 

“An individual works in groups and it’s recognition of the work that an association does.”

Dr Atchison lived in Tamworth for a time and after arriving in Armidale, became involved with the Armidale and District Historical Society. He later became president and it was through a group of colleagues that he came to join the National Trust of Australia, which drew him towards Saumarez Homestead. 

Dr Atchison said Saumarez was part of the region’s rich history and he has been the chairman of the advisory committee since 2009. 

“The key thing about Saumarez is we are very keen to have the Armidale community to take 

possession of it,” he said. “We have to take a long-term view.” 

Dr Atchison is a member of the Rotary Club of Armidale and 

Legacy. 

He was also chairman on the Committee for Geographical Names in Australia and Inter-Governmental Committee for Surveying and Mapping from 1987 to 1994, a board member on the International Council of Onomastic Sciences from 1996 to 1999 and is a honorary counsellor with the Geographical Names Board of NSW.

Margaret “Ann” 

Hodgens OAM, Inverell

ANN Hodgens is a keen historian and her love of local and regional history is the reason she has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia on this year’s list of Australia Day Honours. 

Mrs Hodgens has been involved in a wide range of activities in the Inverell community, many of them stemming from her love of history. 

She was the founding member and president of the Inverell 

District Family History Group, 1984-’87 and 2005-’12 and has been involved in a number of research projects established to chronicle the Inverell and wider region’s history and people. 

Since 2003 Ms Hodgens has been the research co-ordinator of the “Family Ties Project”, in conjunction with the University of New England, researching the histories of the people of the Newstead/Elsmore pastoral district near Inverell.

She was an integral part of the interpretation phase of the restoration/conservation of the Newstead homestead in 2007 in partnership with the Inverell Shire Council and is a member and guide of the homestead board.

Mrs Hodgens has also authored and co-authored a number of local publications including: The Byron Arcade; and A Fine Body of Men: Inverell Remembers the Kurrajongs 1916.

She told The Leader she’d been honoured and thrilled to be a part of researching and educating people about 

the region’s

 history. 

“I have always though it was important that people knew our local history was important because it was part of Australia’s history,” she said. 

Mrs Hodgens said she was 

“honoured, overwhelmed and embarrassed” about her honour.

“To me what we have achieved is the result of a group effort and a reward to everyone involved,” she said. 

“More than anything I am delighted that history has been recognised.”

Mervyn Sharman OAM,  Glen Innes

MERVYN Sharman has spent most of his life dedicating his time to the Glen Innes community and he’s been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Mr Sharman was a councillor on the Glen Innes Municipal Council – now Glen Innes Severn Shire Council – between 1980-1992 and 

1996-2004.

He also served as deputy mayor for a total of 11 years and was actively involved in the campaign for the amalgamation of the Glen Innes and Severn shire 

councils. 

He played an active role in the establishment of the Glen Innes Learning Centre and was a founding member, and former chairman, of the Glenwood Gardens Aged 

Care Facility and its fundraising committee. 

Mr Sharman is also a former president of the Glen Innes Lions Club and held a range of executive positions including treasurer, for several years. 

Mr Sharman has also been a volunteer driver, taking elderly Glen Innes residents to specialist doctors in Tamworth and Armidale and was a board member of Glen Innes Industry, formerly known as the Glen Innes 

Sheltered Workshop, for two years.

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