King's Birthday honours for Moreton Bay quartet

Published 10:05pm 9 June 2024

King's Birthday honours for Moreton Bay quartet
Words by Jodie Powell

The community spirit of four Moreton Bay residents has been recognised in the 2024 King's Birthday Honours list.

The recipients include a family history buff, a women's affairs advocate and a Royal Australian Air Force veteran.

Lance Haslewood, OAM

Lance Haslewood has flown with Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William, Prince Phillip, the Queen, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, but it’s his commitment to keeping Royal Australian Air Force personnel connected that’s earnt him a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours List.

The Delaneys Creek man joined the Australian Defence Force aged 15-and-a-half after finishing Year 10 at Caboolture State High School.

His career of almost 30 years took in roles as a helicopter crewman and C-130 and Boeing 707 loadmaster, ranging from search and rescue work to transporting equipment, personnel and dignitaries.

Lance says he was only “really” scared once during his time with the Royal Australian Air Force flying – during a surveying mission with 9 Squadron when the helicopter’s engine failed on a test flight.

Serving in 9 Squadron

“It was in September 1976 and we were in Biak (Indonesia), an island off North-West Papua during Operation Cenderawasih, which was a joint Army and RAAF task to measure the height of the West Papua terrain as a defence co-operation mission for Indonesia,” Lance says.

“This was done with the use of satellite communication, tracking and measuring equipment, operated by Australian Army survey personnel, which we placed on mountain tops.

“We were about to embark on a flight to Wassior, an hour and a half over water, but before we departed, we did a test flight to measure engine performance etc., and, at about 2000 feet, the engine failed and the fire warning system illuminated.

“Luckily, we were still over the airfield and autorotated safely back onto the ground – a plug blew out of the compressor stage of the engine resulting in an immediate loss of power.

“The release of the hot air from the engine set-off the fire warning system and we thought we were in big trouble.”

Others in 9 Squadron were not so fortunate – on July 29, 1977, young pilot Ralph Taylor was killed and four others severely injured when their Bell UH-1H Iroquois flew into a cloud and crashed into dense jungle in Irian Jaya on the North-West Papua New Guinea border.

In 1978, 9 Squadron lost five more members in an accident in South Australia.

“It was a night flight,” Lance says, “and the aircraft clipped the top of a hill.

“It disintegrated and exploded and all on board perished. Steve Milsted was the crewman and a good friend of mine.”

Keeping mateship alive

King's Birthday honours for Moreton Bay quartet

Lance has been working to preserve records of the service of RAAF personnel for almost 30 years after founding the RAAF Airman Aircrew Association – a mission which contributed to him being awarded his OAM.

He says the association is more than a means of recording the service of members – it also keeps their mateship alive and people in contact.

“Initially, former loadmaster Colin Tigwell (deceased) put together a list of names of airman aircrew as a medium by which former loadmasters and flight engineers could keep in contact, but Col had difficulty in maintaining it, primarily because the list was incorporated into an Army association website, and as such, it was difficult for Col to kept it up-to-date,” Lance says.

“With Col's consent, I took it over, and around 2000 I wrote a dedicated website, albeit a rather basic one.

“This made such a difference for it allowed airman aircrew better access to contact information.

“About four years ago, I totally rewrote the site to a more upmarket one, which is the one now online.”

A labour of love

King's Birthday honours for Moreton Bay quartet

The site is a rich tapestry of honour rolls, profiles, a message board and contact details that’s free for airman and aircrew and associates to use, funded entirely by Lance.

When a member dies, Lance endeavours to send their family a folder containing a letter of condolence, a card, a placard and the poem High Flight, written by World War II Canadian Air Force pilot John Gillespie Magee Jr, who was tragically killed aged 19 in a mid-air collision over the English countryside in 1941.

The Canadian Air Force adopted his work as its official poem.

The RAAF Airman Aircrew Association has a reunion every two years – the next one is in October in Mandurah, Western Australia.

Lance says it is being organised by Peter Luck, a former helicopter crewman and C-130 loadmaster who resides in WA.

After his tour as a helicopter crewman with 9 Squadron at Amberley, Lance completed a C-130E Hercules loadmaster course with the 37 Squadron at Richmond, NSW, and in 1981, completed a Boeing 707 loadmaster course with 33 Squadron also at Richmond – which led to meeting the Royal family.

Brush with fame

Lance did two royal tours with 33 Squadron, the first in 1982 when he brought the Queen and Prince Phillip out for the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

It was on this trip that he unintentionally met British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“The Boeing was parked at a secure section of Heathrow which had its own secure VIP terminal, and parked alongside the RAAF Boeing was an RAF VC10, which I assumed that it was also on a VIP task,” Lance recalls.

“In my haste to collect paperwork from the terminal, and as I rounded a corner in a corridor, I almost collided with Margaret Thatcher, who was coming the other way. We were literally face-to-face. “‘Oh, young man, you ought to be more careful’,” she said,” Lance laughs.

“But she was smiling, and that’s the main thing. A lesson learnt – always take a peek before bolting around a corner.”

Special morning tea

Arriving in London in 1983 to transport Princess Diana and Prince William to Australia, he received a surprise invitation.

“We landed at Heathrow and the Group Captain from the RAAF Attaché in London met the aircraft and handed myself and the aircraft captain an envelope which contained an invitation to attend morning tea at Buckingham Palace - but I had other plans, and the Palace wasn’t part of it - I had to cancel them,” Lance says.

“I didn’t even have a suit, so I had to go and buy one.

“We met Di and Charles and members of the Royal household who would also be on the flight and had a light morning tea with room temperature beer.”

Each royal tour requires three flight crews comprising pilots, flight engineers, loadmasters, cabin staff and maintenance personnel – one each for the Australia to Singapore, Singapore to the Middle East and Middle East to London legs, and the same for the return journey.

“I was lucky to have the Middle East-London-Middle East legs on the two Royal Tours I did. We had two or three days on the ground and then we came back.

“Prince William was about 14 months old, so, prior to departing Richmond, we had purchased a Holden ‘Safe and Sound’ baby seat which the squadron’s technical personnel modified to be secured into an airline seat for young William, but he wouldn’t sit in it.

A new chapter

Having a young family, Lance retired from flying in 1983 so that he could spend more time at home. He was commissioned, which added a new dimension and opportunities to his already challenging RAAF career.

He spent the next 13 years “flying” a desk, which he says he thoroughly enjoyed, but he missed the flying, the travel, flexibility and the unique mateship.

As well as his dedication to the RAAF Airman Aircrew Association, Lance has been a Justice of the Peace for more than 40 years and is a life member and president of the Caboolture Regional Car Club.

He’s also a member of the Queensland Torana Car Club, NSW Torana Club, Sunshine Coast Torana Appreciation Social Club, and the Queensland Caravan Club and wrote and administers the websites for most of the clubs, as well as the OZ DeLorean website.

He has a 1976 SL/R 5000 Torana which he has owned for 48 years, and a 1982 DMC-12 DeLorean. Lance also holds a private pilot licence.

Shauna Hicks, OAM

Bribie Island’s Shauna Hicks has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to community history.

A founding member of the Queensland Family History Society, Shauna is also a founding member of the Genealogical Society of Queensland and the Bribie Family History Association.

She tutored several classes at Bribie Island’s University of the Third Age (U3A), including advanced Irish genealogy, advanced Scottish genealogy, advanced English genealogy and family history writing.

Shauna worked in government for more than 35 years, primarily in libraries and archives, including at the State Library of Queensland, the Queensland State Archives, the National Archives of Australia in Canberra and the Public Record Office Victoria in Melbourne.

She’s also been a valued member of the Australian Society of Archivists, serving as national secretary, Queensland Branch convenor and managing editor and was the founding convenor of the Reference, Access and Public Programs Special Interest Group.

Shauna has been tracing her own families since 1977 and is now the director of her part-time research and consultancy business, Shauna Hicks History Enterprises.

Rhona Collinson, OAM

North Lakes resident Rhona Collinson’s service to the Caboolture community has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

The former teacher and librarian at Caboolture State High School has been the North Lakes Retirement Resort librarian since 2007.

Rhona is a former chair of the Caboolture Region Church Council, as well as a former member of the Pastoral Relations Committee for the Moreton Rivers Presbytery and a Volunteer Sexton at the Upper Caboolture Uniting Church Cemetery.

She was also a co-ordinator on the Cemetery Restoration Committee.

Rhona’s community service included working with the Caboolture Family History Research Group, where she is an inaugural and life member, having served as president in 1984, vice-president in 1983 and treasurer for three years.

Kathy Cavanagh, OAM

Significant service to women’s affairs and the community have earned Kathy Kavanagh a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

The Bellara resident says news of the recognition was  overwhelming and unexpected.

She’s worked with the National Council of Women Queensland for more than a decade, managing their bursary program since 2011.

“They’re for female students in Queensland in various levels – some are Year 12 students, right up to PHD level,” Kathy says.

“We have bursaries from the Australian Medical Association, for the LGBTIQ community, indigenous women and for people with a disability.

“I have about 10 co-ordinators and a group of 30 who are involved in the selection panels.

“The bursaries are a team effort – I manage it but you need a team to make it work.”

Since 1985, Kathy has been a member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) International Queensland - a not-for-profit service organisation that raises money for various charities and community organisations.

“We do a lot of fundraising through our art union, fashion parades, trivia nights and other activities,” Kathy says.

She’s been the Assistant Membership Secretary for Volunteer Marine Rescue Bribie Island since 2020.

“I know nothing about boats, but I help a couple of hours a week in admin – it’s a very minor role.”

Kathy has also written a booklet about breast cancer after her own experiences in 2014, 'Kathy, You're Just Special'.

“The idea was to make it available to women who had breast cancer,” she explains.

Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now at www.gg.gov.au.

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