Australia Day Honours: Nine in The Hills

MICHAEL PARSLOW

A Glenhaven resident often called Mr Tennis has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the sport.

Michael Ronald Parslow has been a director of Tennis NSW since 1985, president of the Metropolitan Grass Court Clubs Association from 2002-2010; the Australian Representative of the International Tennis Federation Seniors Committee from 2001-2007, and a member of the National Technical Services Committee, Tennis Australia, from 1998-2012.

He was the president of Hills District Tennis Association from 1985-1988; its treasurer for many years and a member of Blacktown District Tennis Association in the 1960s."I feel very humbled and proud to be nominated for the honour. There are so many deserving people who support their chosen sport," he said.

"There are continuing challenges in all sports, particularly at grassroots level in attracting young people and I will continue to work to encourage more to take up the great sport of tennis.

"I will serve as a director of Tennis NSW for the balance of my tenure and support all aspects of the game for as long as I am able to make a contribution."

LINDSAY SHOWYIN

Mr Showyin of West Pennant Hills has been awarded an OAM for service to the manufacturing industry and to professional associations.

The industrial chemist has had many roles including president of the Aerosol Association of Australia from 1984 to 2013 and inaugural president of the Asian Aerosol Foundation since 2011.

"It was a most unexpected honour," he said. "While the honour relates to the manufacturing industry I interpret this to include my technical work in this industry.

"I am grateful that the aerosol industry and its association has been recognised.

"But I am appalled at the continuing decline of the manufacturing industry in Australia with successive governments seeming to encourage the decline.

"I am an industrial chemist by training and one of the many results from the decline is now the lack of opportunities for any new graduates in this field as many companies have deserted manufacturing plus research and development in this country. In addition red tape and regulation abounds."

RICHARD DIXON (DECEASED)

Richard "Bill" Dixon spent the better part of his life helping others.

He was awarded an OAM posthumously for service to the community of north western Sydney.

The volunteer pursuits of the World War II veteran, volunteer fire fighter of 48 years and founder of the NSW Meals on Wheels Association span more than 65 years.

The Cherrybrook native started the Community Foundation of North Western Sydney in 2005, to assist people in the Hills with a counselling service and no-interest loans.

David Barnett, who met Mr Dixon in 2001 when they were both were working as volunteers at Hills Community Aid, said the organisation was Mr Dixon's legacy.

"Now that he has gone, both of his sons have joined the foundation to continue his work," he said.

"The last 30 years of his life were totally dedicated to helping people. He had charisma and wouldn't take no for an answer. "

‘‘He had charisma and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He felt strongly for the community.’’

Mr Barnett said Mr Dixon was the kind of man you could make a film about and displayed humility and a great sense of humour.

‘‘He was a very selfless man,’’ he said.

‘‘He didn’t look for anything [but] I think he would be very honoured and thankful.’’

Mr Dixon was on Hills Community Aid's management committee for 16 years, and served as president of the service for six years. He died on August 24 last year, aged 91.

■ REVEREND TREVOR BARRETT

Long-term Cherrybrook resident Reverend Trevor Barrett found his true calling when he was 19.

Then again at 69 when he started teaching computer skills for the elderly.

He was awarded a OAM for setting up and running weekly adult education classes at the Pennant Hills Uniting Church.

"I was surprised and happy," the 85-year-old said.

After retiring from the Uniting Church Australia in 1988, Mr Barrett said he saw a need for the classes.

"I spent a lot of time as a chaplain at retirement villages and knew people were lonely and would do better if they were active and well," he said.

"There are a lot of smart people in our congregation so I asked if anyone was interested in volunteering to teach the classes.

"I teach computer skills but we also have Australian history, current affairs, music appreciation, dietary planning, grief resolution, book studies and a whole range of classes."

RHONDDA VASSALLO

Rhondda Vassallo has had some amazing moments in her career as a nurse in the disability sector since age 17.

The Baulkham Hills resident was awarded a Public Service Medal for outstanding service to people with a disability and their families.

For the past two years she has led a team established to help 300 intellectually disabled people cope with moving from large residential centres in Westmead and Rydalmere to individual homes.

"I feel very humbled," she said.

"In the work that I do there are so many people that make things happen, it's not just one person."

Mrs Vassallo was praised for her dedication, kindness and the trust staff, residents and their families have placed in her. For eight years she was part of performance showcase 'A Moment to Shine', which allowed residents to experience music, dance and drama.

DR TIMOTHY HAWKES

Tim Hawkes was a second year student at Durham University, England, when a professor encouraged him to think differently.

The headmaster of The King's School, Parramatta for the past 16 years jokes he was there to complete a double first in bar-keeping and rugby union, but a love of education crept in.

"I was not sparking academically in those days," he said. "It was the intercession of a very faithful professor who taught me how to think. Then I recognised that being an academic nerd need not be disassociated with playing first grade rugby, which was nice."

Dr Hawkes has since gained a PhD, written nine books on boys education, development of leadership skills and boarding, and contributed regularly to education debate in Australia.

He received an OAM for service to education and professional organisations, such as the Australian Boarding Schools Association of which he is chairman.

"I feel enormously privileged, delighted, surprised," he said.

Dr Hawkes said access to new technologies had created the biggest change to education in his 40 years in the field.

ROBERT "BILL" DUNCAN

ROBERT "Bill" Duncan has done so much work within the community that his resume reads more like a book.

The Kenthurst resident has received an OAM for his service to business and commerce, and to the community.

"I felt really very pleased not only for myself but for my family, particularly my wife," Mr Duncan said.

"I have been volunteering for 50 years and a lot of the time I've been away from my family.

"I had fantastic support from wife for many years. It's made my life easier and enhanced my ability to participate in community activities."

Mr Duncan has lead many philanthropic projects with various organisations, helped charities and donated his time to volunteer organisations including the Defence Force Army Reserves, NSW Rural Fire Service and Marine Rescue NSW.

Of all his work, Mr Duncan is most proud of providing guidance to senior high school students, young business owners and community leaders.

"I really enjoy seeing energetic young people wanting to succeed in life," Mr Duncan said. "It's an enormous buzz.

‘‘It’s a quintessential Australian characteristic — to get up and have a go.’’

ANTHONY HAY

IN 2006 he was Baulkham Hills Shire Council's first Labor mayor in 106 years.

More recently he's been made the ambassador for Community Medic — a charity providing diabetic and psychological care for western Sydney's homeless.

He is The Hills councillor Tony Hay and an OAM recipient for service to local government and to the community.

"This award represents recognition of over 20 years service to community groups and 10 years as an elected member of The Hills Council, a highlight of which would be my long service as president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils which is a region comprising over 1.8 million Australians," Cr Hay said.

A resident of Baulkham Hills, Cr Hay was elected to then Baulkham Hills Shire Council in 2004 and served as mayor 2006 to 2007.

A Labor branch president and deputy chair of both the Industrial Development and Energy Policy Committee (NSW Labor Party) and the Finance and Economics Policy Committee, Cr Hay said he entered politics to prevent a mobile phone tower being installed at Baulkham Hills Pre-school Kindergarten.

"We actually did succeed in getting it relocated," he said.

■ VERA LILLIAN ABELL

AT the age of 99 Beatrice Ellen Abell was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for sewing 10,000 garments for Anglicare Home Mission Society.

When she died at 107, her then 72-year-old daughter Vera Lillian Abell, of Castle Hill, founded The Anglicare Beatrice Ellen Abell Group with her friend Elaine Barnett.

The volunteer group collects homemade and bought items for Anglicare Mt Druitt.

"Mother had a theory, 'Never say die'," Miss Abell, 88, said.

She has inherited that same determination, since 1998 collecting more than 40,000 items for Anglicare which she personally records, bundles and gift-wraps before distribution.

"This month we have 179 items to contribute," Miss Abell said.

For her service to the community, co-ordinating these charitable donations, Miss Abell received the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia on Australia Day.

She also edits a quarterly newsletter (received by the group's 200 members), convenes the group's monthly meetings and volunteers in the Mowll Village Library at Anglican Retirement Villages where she has lived since 2002.

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