Seven prominent Hills residents will receive Australia Day honours today.
1. WAYNE MERTON
His high school geography teacher used to say to him, ‘‘You be could be Prime Minister of Australia, Merton.’’
The father of three didn’t achieve quite that, but Wayne Merton did go on to enjoy a 27-year spell in politics for which he was recognised with an appointment as a Member (AM) in the General Order of Australia today.
‘‘I’m surprised and humbled,’’ Mr Merton, of Dural, said.
He was working as a litigation lawyer in Parramatta when he joined the Liberal Party in 1974, spurred on by a yen to influence the law process.
Baulkham Hills state MP David Elliott said when Mr Merton was the Acting-Speaker at the Parliament of NSW he ruled that members may use their Blackberrys and mobile phones for reference purposes, in the same way that they may refer to copious notes.
‘‘It made sense,’’ Mr Merton, who is an iPhone man incidentally, said.
Said Mr Elliott: ‘‘Now politicians refer to the ‘Merton ruling’.’’
Since moving into The Hills 50 years ago, Mr Merton has been the state MP for Carlingford and Baulkham Hills, the minister for justice and emergency service, the shadow minister for western Sydney, public works and urban water quality, and held Parliamentary Secretary positions.
‘‘Sunday was Salvos day,’’ said Mr Merton, who until recently played the coronet in The Salvation Army Band.
2. JANE COOKE
Jane Cooke says she is specially proud of helping introduce rebound therapy to The Hills.
Since February 2011, Castle Hill RSL Gymnastics Club, where she is gymsports co-ordinator, has run a pilot program in the sport.
‘‘We have 28 participants each quarter, children with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy,’’ Mrs Cooke said.
The program uses trampolines to provide therapeutic exercise and recreation for people with special needs.
‘‘I’ve always been passionate about working with kids with special needs in gymnastics, but when I started researching in 2003 I found there was no accreditation available for sport-specific courses for special needs," Mrs Cooke said.
‘‘Part of this program has involved making such accreditation available through Gymnastics NSW.’’
Mrs Cooke has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her service to the sport of gymnastics as an administrator.
‘‘It’s really hard for me to accept an award of this nature without thinking of all the incredible people around me,’’ she said.
Mrs Cooke has never been a gymnast, although all her children have. Nor does she consider herself as sporty.
3. NANCY SERG
Nancy Serg has enough certificates of appreciation for her volunteer service to the Maltese community of NSW to wallpaper a room.
The Baulkham Hills resident received an Order of Australia Medal today for her efforts.
‘‘It’s an amazing feeling — I’m still trying to get to grips with it,’’ she said.
Mrs Serg nee Borg started work with the Maltese community in 1965, a year after she migrated to Australia from Malta at age 18.
‘‘We assisted with whatever was needed in the community at the time,’’ she said.
‘‘People who couldn’t read or write ...used to bring letters to us to read and we’d refer them to the appropriate authority — solicitors, government departments or waterboard.
‘‘We all learnt on the job and did everything to the best of our ability.’’
Mrs Serg has since hosted community, theatrical and cultural events in English and Maltese, educated the community on health and available services, and led the Merrylands Maltese Seniors Group and others.
She served on a mental health support group committee at Parramatta’s Diversity Health Institute, and helped to obtain funding for Maltese aged day care services in Baulkham Hills and Blacktown.
4. ALBERT GAMBLE
Adventure, international health projects, fossils and friends — Albert "Alby" Gamble has experienced them all in his long involvement with Scouts Australia.
The Round Corner resident had only a brief hiatus from Scouts since he joined as a Cub in 1946, and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal on Saturday for services to youth through the movement.
‘‘It’s a thrill actually,’’ he said.
‘‘When I look back, the colleagues that I worked with made a difference. They were unbelievably supportive.’’
Mr Gamble has been National Commissioner (1990-1993); International Commissioner (1982-1990); and Area Commissioner — Cumberland Area (1975-1981) of Scouts.
He remained an active committee member until 2006, was delegate to several Asia-Pacific and world conferences and helped organise the World Scout Jamboree in Sydney in 1988.
But he is most proud of the Bangladesh-Australia Child Health Project he instigated with his counterpart in Bangladesh while International Commissioner.
The project saw 13 teams of Australian youth aged 18 to 26 visit villages in Bangladesh to educate children — and indirectly, parents — on health, nutrition and sanitation with Bangladeshi Guides and Scouts.
Eight years into the project a comprehensive survey of the villages found the under 5 infant mortality rate dropped from 175 per 1,000 to 15 per 1,000.
‘‘It worked tremendously well,’’ Mr Gamble said.
5. CAROLYN GOULD
Carolyn Gould donates all her spare time to assisting others to achieve their dreams.
Her spreading of goodwill and supporting others was recognised on Saturday when Mrs Gould was named as recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to the cashmere industry and to the community.
‘‘There is just so much that needs to be done,’’ Mrs Gould of Kellyville said.
‘‘It’s about facilitating and providing support to others who need assisting to achieve what it is they want to achieve in — like commercial farming and kids’ experiences with music.’’
Mrs Gould’s career in the cashmere industry started with two goats on her property which later developed into a herd. From there, she worked as a secretary in Region 25 in the voluntary section at the Australian Cashmere Growers Association (ACGA).
Her extensive knowledge of cashmere goats as well as hobby farming was acknowledged by the ACGA and she was offered two positions: co-ordinator of the National Telephone Line and executive officer.
In this position, she provided advice to hobby and commercial farmers located in the Sydney basin about the benefits of cashmere goats.
Over the years Mrs Gould has also worked as the magazine editor of Cashmere Australia and assisted with the publication of Australian Goat Notes. She has donated her time to being the vice-president, liaison officer, delegate and a committee member of the Band Association of New South Wales as well as the secretary and a member of the management committee of the City of Sydney Youth Band.
Mrs Gould was also the secretary of the Castle Hill RSL Youth Band.
6. WANDACITA DAY
Every cause needs its champion, and workers from the 1970s trade union movement will never forget the name Wandacita Day.
Ms Day, of Northmead, was formerly recognised for her work with Labor Council Trade Union with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the general division.
The award will come as no surprise to her former Woolworths colleagues who described Ms Day as ‘‘a woman who would speak up when nobody else would’’.
Her campaign to modernise the Woolworths workplace resulted in the company changing its views on unsafe working conditions and provide women with equal pay in line with male employees.
Ms Day who was originally hired as a payable clerk said her campaign all started after her employer refused to replace a faulty desk chair.
‘‘I protested and took Woolworths to the Industrial Relations Commission where they agreed to provide safer working conditions and raise female wages by $27.50 a week,’’ Ms Day said.
A highly successful career with Federated Clerks Union followed before Ms Day retired in 1991.
She kept herself busy after retirement by becoming a foundation member of the Computer Pals in Holroyd program and served as treasurer for the Parramatta Eisteddford Society for 10 years.
7. KEITH WARNOCK
Former Holroyd Council mayor Keith Warnock has been recognised for his tireless community work with an award of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the general division.
Mr Warnock was nominated for an OAM in recognition of his 35 years of service to the Holroyd community.
The Northmead resident is a founding member of the Rotary Club of Holroyd and served as an independent Holroyd councillor between 1974 to 1991.
In 1984, Mr Warnock was elected Holroyd mayor and used his time in office to a assist a range of community groups including Holroyd Community Building Society, Merrylands Co-operative Housing Society and Charles Wentworth Hospital - where he was an honorary director on the board of advice.
Mr Warnock said he thoroughly enjoyed his community work over the years which enabled him to meet a ‘‘good cross-section of the public’’.
‘‘Holroyd has been good to me and I’ve been proud to do something in return,’’ Mr Warnock said.
Following his retirement Mr Warnock became involved with the Probus Club of Holroyd where he’s served as group’s assistant treasurer.