Like many, Lorraine Bartel began volunteering when her children started school, but helping her community has turned into a decades-long passion.
The Moree woman has just received an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours for service to her community.
When Lorraine heard the news, she was "overwhelmed" with emotions.
"I don't expect accolades," she said.
"I love what I do.
"If I can do something to help people and make people a bit happier, I'll do it."
Lorraine started volunteering by joining the school P&C and helping in the canteen.
She was a member of the Bellata Country Women's Association from 1982 to '89 and has been a member of the Moree Lions Club since 1986.
She began volunteering at the local PCYC when she began work there in 1990 and was made a life member in 2015.
But in later years, Lorraine's focus has turned to assisting local seniors.
She has been the president of the Moree and District Pensioners Welfare Association Trust, trustee of the Moree Homes for the Aged and main organiser of the Moree Senior Week Committee since 1991.
Lorraine has also been a volunteer at Whiddon Moree (previously known as Fairview Retirement Village), since 1999.
"I really enjoy the stories our elderly can tell," she said.
"If only we could bottle those up and keep them.
"A lot of them have had hard lives and came through it.
"They can offer a lot of advice and are a wealth of knowledge."
Lorraine's social outlet is bowls. She has been treasurer of the Moree Services Women's Bowling Club since 2015 and secretary since 2014.
Lorraine's list of other accolades includes:
- Non-Aboriginal Female Elder of the Year, Reconciliation Award, 2018.
- Northern Tablelands, Woman of the Year, 2018.
- Certificate for Service, Moree Homes for the Aged Reserve Trust, 2015.
- James D Richardson Honour Award, Moree Lions Club, 2012.
- Australia Day Citizen of the Year for Moree, Moree Plains Shire Council, 2006.
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