On a Saturday in February 1958, a young Laurie Barber was fresh out of school when Inverell Times boss David Sommerlad handed him a pen and notebook and despatched him to the show.
He finished at midnight then worked all day Sunday.
On the Monday, he reported for what was supposed to be his official first day as a journalist - already with two days of overtime up his sleeve.
A Rotarian, former Times editor, author and basketball enthusiast, Mr Barber has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.
Leader readers would also recognise Mr Barber as word sleuth extraordinaire and longtime columnist; now his service to the community has earned him a national honour.
Mr Barber, who lives in Port Macquarie, said he was surprised and humbled to be recognised for what he enjoyed doing.
He thanked his supportive family and those who thought he was worthy of being nominated.
Mr Barber went on to become managing editor of the Times and regarded Mr Sommerlad as the best boss he ever had.
He devoted almost five decades to journalism and worked at various newspapers after the Times.
Mr Barber is a former deputy president of the Country Press Association NSW.
Since his retirement from the media, his achievements include being named Port Macquarie-Hastings Senior Citizen of the Year in 2014 and a Paul Harris Fellow.
Rotary has been part of Mr Barber's life since he joined the community service organisation in 1971 in Inverell.
He was a member of the Rotary Club of Inverell East for 11 years before joining the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie in 1982.
The past president of the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie and past district governor of Rotary District 9650 served on the board of Australian Rotary Health from 2013 to 2016.
Australian Rotary Health is one of the largest independent funding sources of mental health research in the country.
Tanna, an island in Vanuatu, beckoned in 2008 when Mr Barber spent time there with Rotary painting and repairing schools.