Our region’s Queen’s Birthday Honours recipients revealed

With the award, you could chop that up into 500 pieces, no worries at all; every ship has a captain but you've got to have a good crew behind you.

Brendan Farrell OAM

Local government, sport, the arts, veterans, bread and hay – the nine Border and North East people awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours have diverse interests. But all are quick to acknowledge the support of those around them.

Margaret Brickhill

Margaret Brickhill has helped develop the performing arts in Wangaratta for 35 years.

A Wangaratta Arts Council member since 1983, she was president for 15 years and also served four years as treasurer.

In 2001, she became a founding member of the Wangaratta arts, culture and heritage committee, chairing the group for three years.

Over the past 28 years, her love of jazz has grown through assisting the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues while she volunteers at the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre as well.

“It’s the thing of really enjoying the arts and being with others and through that making a contribution,” she said.

“(The honour’s) a reminder of just how grateful I am to live in Wangaratta, it’s got a lot of really creative people and a really strong cultural vitality.”

Brendon Collins

Wodonga estate Elmwood won awards for its integrated housing and now its creator has been recognised for his service to the building and construction industry.

Brendon Collins has spent a decade developing the $40 million subdivision that makes a feature of energy efficiency, sustainability and a sense of community.

The 115 homes have high energy ratings and the developer aspires to more.

“We’re hoping to announce within the next month that 10-star release,” Mr Collins said. “It’s where housing needs to go to and I’m just happy to be out there forging the way with that.

“It works for everyone; the environment wins, the people win, mental health wins living in a quality environment where people look out for each other.”

Dianne Evans

Dianne Evans has served Yarrawonga-Mulwala for years, but a short-term project in 2013 stands out.

Local service clubs sprang into action after a tornado devastated the region and raised $30,000 in three weeks.

“That was really great just watching the way that succeeded and being able to distribute the money where it was needed,” Mrs Evans said.

The secretary of the Yarrawonga-Mulwala strategic planning group since 2015, Mrs Evans is also involved with Rotary, Yarrawonga-Mulwala Tourism Board and St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church.

For more than a decade she has been secretary/treasurer of Tunzafun, a community owned and operated fun park.

“It was sitting there derelict and there were three or four of us decided we should try and do something with it,” she said.

“We had major working bees with all the community involved and it’s just built from there.”

Brendan Farrell

The Burrumbuttock Hay Runners bring hay and hope to drought-affected farmers throughout NSW and Queensland.

Founder Brendan Farrell has been acknowledged for his service to primary industry, but he points out he hasn’t acted alone.

“With the award, you could chop that up into 500 pieces, no worries at all; every ship has a captain but you’ve got to have a good crew behind you,” he said.

Although surprised and honoured, Mr Farrell said delivering truckloads of hay wasn’t done to win official recognition.

“It’s probably more about seeing the kids smiling and the mum and dads in the outback just knowing they can get that one or two weeks’ reprieve on feeding,” he said.

“You’re helping with their mental health, letting them know someone still cares.

“We get the job done, we get the hay where it needs to go, we also support little community events, different things, try and get sponsorship as we can.

“It’s all about just helping your mates out and that’s what we do.”

 John Hanlon

Asked by a friend to help organise Melbourne’s Anzac Day march, John Hanlon stayed on the job for 17 years.

“The volunteer ethic, I suppose, kept me going,” he said.

“It was an enjoyable task, it was a challenge and it was always worthwhile seeing the veterans on Anzac Day, with their chests puffed out a little bit and displaying their pride.”

Now living in Cobram, Mr Hanlon said he was “pretty excited, actually” to be awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to veterans and their families 

“And very proud, because it’s a great honour to be recognised by your country,” he said.

A Victorian RSL volunteer since 2000, Mr Hanlon has been a longtime member of the kindred organisations and unit associations forum working with “a group of good people”.

Helen L’Huillier

Teaching, swimming, Red Cross and U3A achievements notwithstanding, Mount Beauty’s Helen L’Huillier is known for her service to cross-country skiing.

A founding member of the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club in 1977, Mrs L’Huillier has been race secretary of the Kangaroo Hoppet ski race for 27 years.

A past president and secretary, she founded the Ski de Femme event and coached the junior squad between 1989 and 1994.

At Mount Beauty Swimming Club, she coached for 18 years and also served as co-ordinator between 2004 and 2010.

Tawonga Red Cross and Mount Beauty University of the Third Age have also benefited from her community contribution.

Mrs L’Huillier completed a long teaching career at schools including Dederang, Mount Beauty, Falls Creek and Alexandra.

Trevor Noonan

Trevor Noonan continues to enjoy his voluntary service.

“Cobram’s a great town and all the organisations I’ve been involved in, I’ve probably got more back out of them than what I’ve put in,” he said.

For 15 years he has chaired the council of Cobram Anglican Grammar School, which his church began in 2000.

“We started with 23 kids and we’ve now got 350-something children, which in a small town is not a bad effort,” he said.

“I’m passionate about that and that’s been very satisfying.”

A former Cobram councillor and Moira Shire amalgamation commissioner, Mr Noonan is a life member of Apex Club of Cobram Barooga and a Rotary Club of Cobram member since 1985.

Tom O’Toole

Asking for help 34 years ago marked the real start of Tom O’Toole’s journey.

HONOURED BY HONOUR: Tom O'Toole and his wife Christine in Beechworth on Sunday. "I feel a real fraud, there's so many people out there and so many people behind me making me look good," Mr O'Toole says of his OAM. Picture: MARK JESSER

HONOURED BY HONOUR: Tom O'Toole and his wife Christine in Beechworth on Sunday. "I feel a real fraud, there's so many people out there and so many people behind me making me look good," Mr O'Toole says of his OAM. Picture: MARK JESSER

“I had a very low self-esteem and all that sort of stuff and I had an incredible fear of people,” the Beechworth Bakery founder said.

“I had to change and there was a lot of people there to help me.

“Lifeline got me out of myself, and gave me a lot of confidence.

“I  learned lots about being at peace with yourself and being happy to live happily in rural Australia.”

Now a motivational and business speaker, author and with six bakeries employing more than 250 people, Mr O’Toole praised all those who had supported him.

“Without my team there’s not much of me at all,” he said.

“I do know the more I give, the more I get in all areas of my life.”

Rodney Wangman

Former Wodonga mayor Rodney Wangman said he was humbled by his award.

“No one person acts alone and in those community aspirations I have advocated, I feel privileged to have been working alongside people who put service before self and thus it is very much an honour respectful of a team effort,” he said.

“Whether my family, past council colleagues or the many staff, directors and acquaintances; each has played important roles.”

Mr Wangman served as a councillor for 11 years, four of them as mayor.

The Albury Wodonga Community College chief executive developed the 2Cool4School program.

He is a past national director of the Australian Council on Disability.

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