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Moreton Bay residents honoured in Queen’s Birthday awards

Posted: 7pm 15 Jun 2021

Six Moreton Bay Region people have been recognised for their services to the community in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Meet the founder of the Bribie Island Orchestra, the former Caboolture State High School student who saved lives in the war in Iraq, the Vietnam veteran helping returned service men and women, a Caboolture Regional Environmental Education Centre volunteer, a community historian preserving precious memories and a cycling stalwart and University of the Third Age volunteer.

Martin White, Sandstone Point

Martin White has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the Bribie Island community.

Mr White, who celebrated his 85th birthday on Friday, says the receiving honour was “quite a thrill”.

“I never expected such a thing in my wildest dreams,” he says.

“The award is due to the enthusiasm of the audiences we’ve had.

“It’s been a great source of pleasure and satisfaction for me.”

Mr White was instrumental in founding the Bribie Island Orchestra and paid tribute to his wife, Heather, for her support.

“Enormous credit has to go to my wife, and her incalculable support – she even learnt to play the violin.

“When we arrived here in 1989 there was really nothing here – we had about 5000 people on the island but no choirs and no instrumental groups.”

Mr White had intended to retire from teaching violin when he moved to Bribie, but word of his talent reached Bribie Island State School, which had a couple of old violins and needed someone to teach pupils.

“I started teaching a small group of boys and girls, then they built Banksia Beach (primary school) and the high school and I was going to start teaching with the high school, but they weren’t interested and I decided to start an orchestra anyway.

“It just grew and grew and we had our 25 years and 100th concert two years ago,” he says.

“We have about a dozen players over 70 and six or seven over 80.”

As well as serving the Island’s musical community, Mr White has been an integral member of the Bribie Rotary Club and runs astronomy and music appreciation classes with the University of the Third Age.

Wendy Sanders, Beachmere

Wendy Sanders’ service to the cycling community and the University of the Third Age have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Mrs Sanders said she was humbled to be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and never dreamt when she first became involved in the cycling community that she would receive such an honour.

The Beachmere resident says she became involved in cycling through her husband and initially hated the sport.

“I met my husband when I was 16 and he was a gorgeous young copper and an avid cyclist,” Mrs Sanders says.

“I hated bikes – I was very jealous because he wanted to ride for seven hours at the weekend.

“But once our children came along and they started racing I thought ’if you can’t beat them, join them’,” she laughs.

“I started off holding a flag at the side of the road.”

Mrs Sanders eventually found herself working with Cycling Queensland as a volunteer, and then a paid employee once State Government funding was found, ultimately retiring from the organisation as chief executive officer.

During that time, she managed cycling teams at a national and international level, taking three teams to Japan and France.

After the Sydney Olympics, Mrs Sanders was heavily involved with the Australian Youth Olympics, which fostered the development of young athletes.

“I managed five (cycling) teams, in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 with about 130 people in each team.

“It was such a fantastic opportunity for them to compete at an official Olympic venue.”

More recently, Mrs Sanders has served as a tutor for the Caboolture University of the Third Age, which has grown to 800 members since its inception in 2011, including terms as president.

She has also been the community vice-president for the U3A Network Queensland.

“I am extremely honoured to receive the award,” she says.

Mitchell Howden, Elimbah

Australian Army Corporal Mitchell Jon Howden, who grew up at Elimbah and went to Caboolture State High School, received a Commendation for Gallantry.

Corporal Howden’s citation says the honour was bestowed for acts of gallantry in action while he was a Section Commander in the Quick Reaction Force Platoon, Task Group Taji X in Iraq on March 11 last year.

“During the aftermath of a large indirect fire attack on Camp Taji, Corporal Howden displayed bravery of the highest order, exemplary leadership and a disregard for his own safety by entering a burning building containing suspected unexploded ordinance,” the citation says.

“Despite firefighters having declared the building too dangerous to enter, Corporal Howden led several searches, inspiring his men to follow him, which resulted in the rescue of two contractors who were incapacitated through injury.

“His gallant actions and inspirational leadership when faced with extreme danger saved several coalition lives.”

Greg Russell, Everton Hills

Seeing his mates struggle with health problems and mental health issues after the Vietnam War sparked a desire in Greg Russell to help veterans navigate seeking support.

Years of services to the veteran community have resulted in Mr Russell, who is a board member at the Kedron-Wavell Services Club, being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

“We’re trying to teach all these younger veterans about what they have to do before they get too old and can’t do it any more,” Mr Russell says.

“I was a Vietnam veteran and when we came home – not that it worried me – we were not treated very well by the government and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or the RSL.

“A lot of my mates really got into trouble with health problems and mental health and every time I went to help them, I ran into government road blocks.”

His experiences led him to the role of military advocate, helping returned service men and women access the support they need to return to civilian life and he has served on the Queensland Veteran's Services Advisory Council.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed (by the OAM) – I guess I have never done any of this for awards.

"We have a fantastic Sub-Branch here and I would not have been able to do this if it was not for them.

“(The honour) is not just for me, it’s for everybody in the organisation.”

Harry Lynas, Burpengary

Decades of service to preserving community history have earnt Burpengary’s Harry Lynas a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Mr Lynas has worked with the Fort Lytton Historical Association for more than 20 years, serving as honorary secretary from 2000-2020. He’s currently the assistant secretary.

As well, Mr Lynas is the principal author and editor of the Fort Lytton Historical Association newsletter.

Fort Lytton defended Brisbane from colonial times until after World War II.

The historic fort is home to about a hectare of colonial buildings, tunnels and other fortified structures.

In addition to his dedication to Fort Lytton, Mr Lynas is the former editor of the Royal Australian Artillery Association of Queensland Magazine and a life member of the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company

James Pulsford, Morayfield

Caboolture Regional Environmental Education Centre (CREEC) volunteer Jim Pulsford has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to conservation and the environment.

Mr Pulsford has been a member of CREEC since 1996 and was the inaugural president of the Tropical Grassland Society of Australia in the 1960s as well as its final president in 2010.

He’s been a member of the Caboolture River Project, Natural Heritage Trust Program, is a founding member of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, and was the Publications Author, Burpengary Creek, Wildlife Preservation Society of Caboolture Shire, 1991.

Mr Pulsford received the Environmental Achievement Award at the Longman Volunteer Recognition Awards in 2014, the Environmental Achievement Australia Day Award from Caboolture Shire Council in 2007, a Centenary Medal in 2003, an Award for Excellence from Landcare Australia in 2000 and was named a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science in 1974.

Read about more inspiring Moreton Bay Region residents here.

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