Of the 993 recipients of awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia in this years Queen’s Birthday Honours List, two have called Orbost home.
AUDREY VALERIE LIGHT, OAM
The late Audrey Light was announced as a posthumous recipient of a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division on Monday, for service to the community through social welfare organisations, while former Orbost resident, Clare Gray, received an OAM for service to community health.
Mrs Light was a volunteer with the Salvation Army in Orbost from the 1970s-1990s and was a volunteer with the Salvos’ Op Shop in Orbost and later started the Merindah Op Shop in town. She was also a volunteer with Meals on Wheels and the Orbost Op Shop.
Mrs Light received a certificate of appreciation from League of Mercy, Australia Southern Territory, Salvation Army, in 1989. She was also a member of Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force during World War II.
Mrs Light’s son, Trevor, said his mother was a very devout Salvationist.
“She worked extremely hard for other people,” he said.
“She had two sons, myself and John, whose wife is Hilary, and a spiritual daughter, Helen. She had a very generous, empathic nature.
“To me she is irreplaceable, but could be easily emulated by others to make the world a better place.”
In her role with the Salvation Army’s League of Mercy, which involved visiting people in hospital, Mr Light said his mother would often go one step further and bring people home from the hospital.
“I remember coming home one day to find a rather large drug addict asleep in the bath,” he said.
“Another she brought home was a man whose wife had died in a car accident. We became good friends with him.
“People would ask my mother if she was concerned she would get killed but she simply said ‘It’s all under God’.
“She believed the Salvation Army is Christianity with its sleeves rolled up.
“She was promoted to glory on November 4, 2018, safe in the arms of Our Lord.”
Her favourite Bible verse was from James 2:14, “Faith without works is dead”.
CLARE NORMA GRAY, OAM
Former Orbost resident, Clare Gray, now of Bell Post Hill, received her OAM for service to community health.
The daughter of Jim and Norma Warren, Mrs Gray left Orbost in 1968 but says she still feels she belongs with many strong family connections to the area.
She was founder of Stroke Association of Victoria and has since held many roles including honorary secretary, president and board member for 34 years.
She has assisted in the establishment of numerous stroke support groups in the Geelong area, STROKIDZ at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, and has been heavily involved in many other stroke associated endeavours.
Mrs Gray has been involved in Young Women’s Christian Association at state and national levels.
She is a life member of the Stroke Association of Victoria and YWCA and is a recipient of the Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champion Award.
Mrs Gray’s founding of the Stroke Association of Victoria, and the many groups and support services that followed, came about after her mother had a stroke at age 49. She spent some time in the Alfred Hospital and the family was placed in a difficult situation after she finally recovered from a coma and needed rehabilitation.
“Twelve months on a world research program she recovered to a stage where she could walk with aid of a stick but needed to live with us for supervision and assist her with her recovery journey,” Mrs Gray said.
“Living in East Gippsland alone would not have worked so we had to think of the best thing for her and the family.”
Mrs Gray said she and her husband had only been married two years when this all happened.
“We could not allow her to be placed in a nursing home,” she said.
“She stayed with us for a number of years before we obtained a unit next door. This gave us all some privacy and we were able to continue looking after her each day. By this time she was able to manage on her own once I helped her each morning. We have never regretted one minute of this and it changed our lives forever.
“It was 14 years caring for her, and in those years we had the need that no health professional could cover. This need was to meet and speak with other people in same situation as us, where we could learn how they managed in difficult situations, coping with mood swings and many difficult issues.
“This was when I finally convinced a few nurses to help me call a public meeting to see if there were other people in the community thinking the same and have similar needs.
“We had over 100 people attend the interest meeting and that day formed three self help support groups for Geelong.
“Two years on we held the inaugural Stroke Awareness Week held (Australia). It was an amazing success and it continues today, being managed by the Stroke Foundation on a national level providing the awareness and prevention programs with the FAST (face, arms, speech, time) message.”
The Stroke Association of Victoria is the only organisation to provide self-help stroke support for the grass roots people to assist them with their life after stroke journey.
“We now have three stroke centres/hubs in Victoria (Geelong, Boroondara and Bendigo) where people meet, have low level therapy and social needs met,” Mrs Gray said.
“On behalf of all Australians I congratulate today’s recipients,” the Governor-General and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), said on Monday.
“They have made an enormous contribution to their local communities and to the entire nation and deserve our thanks, admiration and to be celebrated.”
“These awards are our opportunity to say to fellow Australians, ‘thank you – without you and your tireless service we wouldn’t be the community or nation that we are’.
“Some names on today’s list are well known. Many more are known only to those they help and serve day-in-day-out. They are all wonderful people and are all worthy of recognition and celebration.
“This is the greatest part of our system; it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from or whether you’re known to millions or just a few. If you have constantly put others ahead of yourself, served tirelessly and made a difference you can be nominated and recognised by a grateful nation.
“I encourage all Australians, if ever you see someone with an Order of Australia lapel badge, or see an Order of Australia post nominal after their name, to recognise that the person is extraordinary and has served their community and nation.
“And if, in doing so, you think of someone you know that is similar then consider nominating them for an award so that they too can be celebrated.”
“It is great that the overall number of nominations and upward trend of Australian women being acknowledged through the Honours system continues to grow. We would all welcome higher recognition of magnificent Australian women.”
Other East Gippsland OAM recipients in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List were Bruthen’s Margaret Greenwood (for service to the community of East Gippsland) and Bairnsdale’s Derek Amos (for service to community mental health).
PICTURED: Audrey Valerie Light was awarded a posthumous OAM in Monday’s Queen’s Birthday Hours List for service to the community through social welfare organisations.